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Other Articles from The Villager

Trouble in Unionland

08/09/2017
by Villager Reporters
News Flash

There is trouble in the unions at the moment, and the recent dismissal of Kasuto could be a tip of the iceberg. The Villager tracked down some of the union leaders to get to the bottom of the trouble. The Mineworkers Union is at the centre of the latest battle in the NUNW after the dismissal of Ishmael Kasuto a few weeks ago. The NUNW, The Villager understands, pulled out Kasuto for two things - the Swapo elective congress and his demand that all the unions af?liated to the NUNW should pay the agreed 10% levy. According to information gathered by The Villager, mine workers’ union was the only one paying the 10% to allow smooth operations of the NUNW. After they dismissed Kasuto, the mine workers union stopped paying resulting in the NUNW failing to pay salaries on time until Napwu extended a hand. The NUNW secretary Jacob Muniaro refuted these claims though.

Below we reproduce their answers verbatim.

We won’t’ disaf?liate - Desley Somseb

We have not broken our ties with the Federation. All we are asking are compliance issues, but there is no way that we will disaf?liate from the Federation. We will be part of the Federation, and we will be part of those that will be adhering to the structural governance of the Federation. There is no way that we will break away as a faction from the Federation. We will restore the credibility of the Federation. It has nothing to do with the removal of the NUNW president [Kasuto]. It is all a matter of principle and the constitution. First of all the Congress took place in 2016. The Congress resolutions were in connection with the af?liation fees that all Unions will be written off and (that) everybody has to start afresh. In 2016 we MUN, because there had been non-compliance of paying the af?liation fees, we raised the issue. Again in April and June (of) 2017 we re-emphasised that position as MUN. What is your position on the removal of Ismael Kasuto? If you read the constitution of the Federation regarding Section 9 it talks about the composition of the structural meetings of the Federation.

And that we have raised at the conference of the 22nd of July, and yet again on the 18th of August that the composition of the meeting should be in accordance (with) what the constitution prescribes. So at the meeting, before the agenda of the meeting had been adopted, we had addressed this matter of the composition of the meetings in preliminary issues. We asked those unions that are not in good standing to excuse themselves, which they refused. So at the end of the day, it did not give any reason for us to be a part of an unconstitutional meeting and therefore we left. Now if you look at the submission of the management or ?nancial report of the Internal Auditors of the Federation, it stipulates that MUN is the only paid up union.

Now the Federation should look at how we have to write off the debts of the others. In our view, it should not continue like that. The situation at the Federation has been bad that even the Federation could not afford to pay salaries on time, water and electricity at the Federation have been switched off, and it is hindering the Federation’s administration and progress. Now as a union, the Labour, which is the Federation, represents the workers at the grassroots. The Federation has to formulate policies representing workers at grassroots that should in?uence government to bene?t the workers at grassroots. Now if we cannot do that, if we cannot abide by our constitution what does that tell us? It has nothing to do with Comrade Kasuto. All I am trying to emphasise here is we are tired that after every ?ve years there is always this political in-?ghting in the Federation which is weakening our position as trade unions and we forget about the members that have elected us to these posts. We are not there on our own. We are there because we indicated to our respective af?liate unions that we want to stand as elected representatives of the people. So at the end of the day, that constitution that we are talking to has been endorsed by the workers so we should respect that. The Federation is not a shebeen that each and every one does whatever they please. We should be able to comply with the constitution of the workers.

The accusations are not true. I have been part of those accusations of non-compliance. First of all, what the Namibian reporter missed in that article is that he should have asked Comrade Kasuto whether those allegations are true. I have been part of every meeting, and it is not true. It is just little political campaigning and character assassination that is taking place. What is happening there is not true and what that (Namibian) reporter is saying is 100 percent even not true. Not even 10 percent of it is true. If you read my letters of last year, one of the letters was drafted by our late president. Secondly, I have written two letters on behalf of MUN addressing the issue of structural governance. Now at this point comrade, none of those letters have been responded to from the Federation. So we are becoming victims for trying to address constitutional issues. We are paying 10 percent of our income. I cannot give you a speci?c amount because month in and out we are recruiting, and there are also resignations in the union. So it is never a speci?c amount. But ours have been audited, and if you look at our annual ?nancial statements, you will see that we are paying whatever dues we have for the Federation. I can’t say how much the af?liates owe the Federation because ?rst of all, I do not know what their income is. All

I know is some unions like NAPWU are paying N$75 000, MANWU is paying N$5 000, NANTU is paying N$42 000. Now comrade regarding government employees, how many members does the government union have? How many local authorities do they cover? How many universities do they cover? In last year’s teachers’ strike, 49 000 teachers voted in favour of the strike. Now in the mining sector, our union represents people up to the grassroots who are the ordinary labourers. You cannot compare an ordinary worker to the union of a teacher. We have said for us to move forward let’s all submit the proof of income and audited ?nancial statements. At any given time, we as MUN are willing to open up our books for any forensic audits that can come up. Our ?nancials are audited up to 2016.

Nantu - Basilius Haingura

Comrade, I am telling you now on behalf of Nantu, even the issue of non-payment before the congress, Nantu is on record being one of the unions that used to pay on a monthly basis, even up to today. The issue which the people are claiming that the unions are not paying is not true. Let me take, for example, if I pay you N$10, obviously that is the payment I am giving you, isn’t it? Unless you tell me that no, you cannot pay N$10 because you are earning more than you are paying. Nantu is on record, even this month; Nantu is one of the unions which did not omit any month to pay. If you ask the treasurer of the Federation, she will indicate to you that one of the Unions which did not omit any month to pay is Nantu.

They should not confuse unless you prove to us that no Nantu you have so many members, what you are paying is not regarding the 10%. In the absence of that, where do you base your argument? But the treasurer knows that, and as I was speaking now even last week, we paid, taking into account that we used to get our income on the 20th. There has been a lack of adequate funds. Usually, the af?liates used to ?nance themselves to come to the meetings. I used to tell them that some of their responsibilities do not require funds. Even at the present moment now if you ask them any single concrete resolution which they have implemented there is zero. We (the Federation) are not in a position to execute what we are mandated to do. We must show people that we are claiming to do this and this but at least we must do our level best. From Nantu, the way I operate is, we give money to the Federation. If anybody is challenging that we are not paying, why the Federation can’t indicate the income they are getting from various unions, even the names of those that paid.

Na?nu - Asnath Zamuee

I do not think this is an issue that we would want to resolve through the media. I think it is a matter between NUNW and its af?liates. So I do not believe it is proper that we should now be discussing such issues with you or any other media house for that matter. All unions have different issues they are busy with. For example, as Na?nu we don’t have a problem with af?liation fees. But there was an issue between us and the mother body with regards to the time that we were suspended. Remember in 2012 we were suspended until October last year. So we informed NUNW that for the time that we were suspended we are not going to pay af?liation fees because we did not bene?t anything from NUNW. For some reason, some unions feel that we should pay af?liation fees for the time that we were suspended, and our position is that we are never going to pay them af?liation fees. We will only pay them for the time that we were a part of NUNW. We do not recognise that expulsion (of Ismael Kasuto), we feel that things were not procedurally done. We were not at that meeting, but we were not comfortable at all.

That is not something we can disclose (Na?nu’s subscriptions) with you. Even discussing certain issues with you, I am feeling a little bit uncomfortable because I think that these are administrative issues which shouldn’t be in newspapers. So I think what I gave you should suf?ce for now.

NNFU President - Tobias Emvula

We are paying the fees. We are contributing something, but if there is a case of other unions not paying, then that is a case of those unions. Sometimes we pay N$1 500 sometimes N$500 monthly. If there is a dispute, it can only be the mother body that can deal with those issues. I do not know if the Mine Workers Union has broken away or not but what I know is they are still af?liated to the mother body. The dispute will always be there, and they get discussed.

NATAU - Michael Kapuru

I cannot comment now (on NATAU paying subscription fees) because there is a misunderstanding with MUN having a problem with the af?liates who are not paying their fees. I do not think MUN has been following the right procedure because as unions we have to consult each other so that we

Can have the same understanding. This time around I cannot comment on that one. The decision to remove Kasuto has been made, and we had a meeting two weeks ago where the af?liates were called, and a decision was made. More information you can ?nd from the SG of NUNW. We are living in a democracy. I am not happy with the removal of President Kasuto; it is not within my power alone. It was decided by a special meeting that is the highest authority of the af?liate unions regarding the NUNW, and that is the decision that stands. We are dealing with one aim and objective which is to listen to the people who put you in power. If you try to have a misunderstanding with the people who put you in power they can remove you anytime. I do not want to comment anymore. I am not the right person to give you the full response. The SG of NUNW is the one you were supposed to have contacted before coming to me.

Justina Jonas of MANWU

The problem is that we have our internal procedures we normally follow. I think it will be a bit of a problem because if you (follow) allegations of people who (claim to) know what is right and what is wrong it becomes a problem. Somseb knows what he knows, as an organisation; we have a certain procedure that we follow. It is not really up to the public but only for our members’ consumption. If you start now telling the whole world what is happening in your house..., I am not the owner of the organisation. The owner of the organisation will then ask you questions, who gave you that right to do what you are doing? MANWU is an organisation af?liated to NUNW, and as a mother body which is our political organ it has its obligation towards its af?liates, and we af?liate towards it. We know what the truth is and I think we are not ready to comment on what MUN alleges. MUN is a sister union, and we expect them to come to the sister unions and discuss these issues internally. MANWU as an af?liate of NUNW we had a mandate to speak on this forum that took this decision (to oust Kasuto), we made a statement on that forum. Whatever we said is not for public consumption. I am not obliged to give (information to do with how much MANWU pays in subscriptions)

NUNW Secretary General Job Muniaro

No, I do not want to speak on it because there is a case going on with that matter. So let me talk about that after we ?nalise the court matters. There are no elections for a new president. We have leaders here; we have a ?rst vice president, we have second vice president, they can still act (as president). Muniaro further refuted allegations that NUNW was limping with ?nancial burdens and failing to pay salaries, electricity and water bills, “Who is not paid? If there is a staff member who is not paid or any company that is not paid, then you could have said why are you not paying these staff members then I can answer that one.”