By Andrew Kunambura
The Namibia government is letting go Zimbabwean engineering expatriates seconded there on a government-to-government agreement.
This comes ahead of the expiry of a five-year Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) signed between the two nations in 2012.
The Namibian government last week appeared to be giving in to pressure from militant labour groups there, which besieged government offices demanding the immediate repatriation of Zimbabwean nationals based there.
The Namibian Information and Communication Technology minister, Tjekero Tweya, said in a statement the country’s Cabinet was reviewing the five-year MOU.
“Having heard of the public outcry, Cabinet has directed the ministry of Works and Transport, in consultation with the National Council of Architects, to avail itself to a public consultation with the young, graduating professionals so as to gauge the continued need for expatriates in the civil service,” reads the statement, in which Tweya also warned against xenophobic attacks on Zimbabwean professionals.
“Government must, however, caution that xenophobia should be avoided in our efforts to ensure that we protect the interests of these our professionals.
“Namibia is a product of international solidarity and we are proud that many citizens of the world would like to come and live in Namibia and help us expand this Namibia house.
“We urge calm and trust when the ministry engages in dialogue. There will be a date set aside when those aggrieved can come out and contribute to the resolution of the matter for the long run,” he said.
According to press reports from Windhoek, unemployed Namibian nationals coalescing under the banner of the Namibian Society of Engineers besieged the offices of the ministry of Works and Transport on Monday last week demanding that all posts occupied by Zimbabwean engineering expatriates be immediately advertised.
The engineers, press reports say, read out a letter of their grievances to the ministry’s permanent secretary, Willem Goeiemann, and left 300 curricula vitae of Namibian architects and quantity surveyors, as well as professionals for immediate employment consideration.
“Advertise all positions that were or are currently filled by seconded Zimbabwean staff in the papers to allow Namibian professionals the opportunity to apply for all positions. T
“his is the most transparent means to prove whether there are suitably qualified Namibians to take up those posts, as per immigration regulations,” a representative of the Namibian professionals Tangeni Tshivute was quoted telling the permanent secretary.
The Namibia Institute of Architects (NIA) has also added its voice in the growing tension, urging the Namibian government to abandon the MOU in a statement.
“The NIA expresses its concern regarding following issues: In-service training had to be provided to Namibian individuals. The NIA is unaware of any in-service training that has taken place. Registered Zimbabwean professionals were to be employed.
“As per NIA investigation, it appears that a number of the Zimbabwean expatriates (professionals) are not registered. It is the role of the NIA to protect the interest of its members and promote the architectural profession.
“It is for this reason that the NIA does not support the extension of the (MOU),” the statement, which was issued by the NIA board on Monday last week, said.
Although other professionals are not affected yet, fears are that this could spread to other sectors on the Namibian economy where Zimbabwean citizens are currently dominating. Daily News