RUNDU: The elective congress of the Namibia Public Workers’ Union (Napwu) kicked off here on Wednesday, but not without hiccups as it was delayed for about three hours while Central Executive Committee (CEC) members were locked up in an urgent meeting.
Although details of the CEC meeting remain sketchy, the delay visibly frustrated most of the delegates who were left in the dark, wondering about the content of the morning’s meeting.
Efforts to get comment on the meeting proved futile, but according to the last CEC meeting, no union leader other than Napwu General Secretary Petrus Nevonga was allowed to speak to the media about the congress.
Anyone found guilty of that would be barred from the congress.Sources speculate that the people for the top portfolio positions were already decided on at head office, instead of drawing names from the regional conferences.
Names emerging for the top positions are Sarafina Kandere (as president), Evans Mashwahu (as first president), Ernst Pienaar (as second president), Hilde !Noreses (as treasurer) and Nevonga and Gabes Andumba to retain their positions of general secretary and deputy general secretary, respectively.
It is still unclear whether Nevonga and Napwu’s second deputy president, Moses Ikanga, who was very outspoken about the Government Institutions’ Pension Funds (GIPF) saga, a matter that has reportedly brought him in disfavour with the Napwu leadership, will contest.
Other rumours suggested that the CEC was possibly discussing and approving, amongst others, a financial report to be presented to the congress. This angered some regional representatives who questioned why the CEC meeting was not held prior to the congress, as should have been the case.
The northern region’s delegates also expressed their dissatisfaction over the manner in which the congress was prepared, saying the two days given to the congress was too short to deliberate all issues pertaining to workers’ plight and their future.
Meanwhile, the Kavango Region’s acting Governor Bonny Wakadumo said during his welcoming remarks that with the country trapped in an economic structure inherited from colonialists, congress delegates should campaign for new developmental growth paths, and do away with the inherited economic structure.
The acting governor requested the delegates to fight the ban on labour hire companies, stressing that the reason why the country is failing to create employment opportunities is because of the rapid growth in the informal economy.
On her part, Napwu acting president Sarafina Kandere called on delegates to ensure constructive deliberations, and to focus on issues rather than personalities.
“I urge all to be motivating in their contributions, and as mouth-pieces of society address issues of public importance with sensitivity and care,” she said.
Kandere then condemned tendencies that promote division and quarrels that could lead to social strife.
About three-hundred delegates from the country’s 13 regions are attending the congress, taking place under the theme “Workers unite for better living conditions”.