Obrein Simasiku/Hertta-Maria Amutenja
Tension and emotions flared high as hundreds of people occupied some streets in the capital protesting against alleged sexual exploitation of Namibian workers by the Chinese bosses, money laundering and tax evasion, kidnapping and unfair labour practices as well.
These demands were listed in various petitions handed over to a Chinese business tycoon, NamRA, Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security and the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development.
The demonstrations, attracted participants from all over the country who joined the masses in solidarity with those who were arrested during Friday’s demonstration at China Town and those whose goods were confiscated and burned by NamRa.
In their petition to prominent business women Stina Wu, NEFF’s Kalimbo Ipumbu expressed
their concerns over the Chinese establishments in Namibia importing and selling counterfeit goods without any interference from the authorities.
The protesters demanded that all China Town employees sign employment contracts and that Chinese shop owners stop sleeping with their female staff.
“Chinese business owners here have no regards for our constitution, labour law and dignity human rights. We demand for labour employment contracts for all workers employed here.
“We are frustrated that the Chinese shop owners are busy sexually harassing female employees. The Chinese bosses are busy sleeping with our girlfriends on the matrasses they later sell to us as second hand. We demand this to stop,” said Ipumbu.
They also accused Chinese bosses of money laundering, tax invasion and kidnapping.
In the petition handed to the Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME development Lucia Ipumbu, they demanded that all Chinese retail stores to close and trade only as wholesalers and deregistration as foreign business.
“We that retailing business be preserved for our local and domestic markets. We demand for the deregistration of foreign business that do not pay tax, do not bank with our local banks and do not comply with our tax laws. They must pack and leave,” reads the petition.
Furthermore, they want the ministry to put up strict regulations for registration of companies by foreign nationals.
In the petition handed over the Namra, they called for the closure of the new agency and also for the reduction in the salaries of senior officials by 40 percent
“We are calling for the agency to be reintegrated into the Ministry of Finance this year. Privilege people like Commissioner Sam Shivute is getting paid over 2 million annually excluding bonuses and other benefits,” the petition states.
The protests started this morning at China Town, then proceeded to Home Affairs offices
to handover a petition to Minister Albert Kawana, who was unavailable. They abandoned handover over any petition here and proceeded tothe Ministry Trade and then NamRa. Due to time constrains the also change their plans to march to the Chinese embassy.
Since the burning of the imported products recently, there has been an uproar in the public the subsequent demonstrations since last week has landed NEFF’s commissar for economic
development Michael Amushelelo and AR activist Dimbulukeni Nauyoma in jail. They were arrested on Friday following violent clashes with law enforcement officers, who had to use teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd at China Town.
They are charged with public violence and inciting public violence, as well as threat through assault. The two are still fighting for bail, after the state initially objected, citing the seriousness of the matter, and postponed it to July 5 for second appearance.
Six others who were also arrested during Friday’s demonstration including NEFF president Epafras Mukwiilongo, were released on a warning the same night.
Additionally, the protestors further calls on NamRa to conduct a search operation for counterfeit goods at China Town shops and also do a tax audit and to refund N$5 million to Namibia’s small importers for the goods they destroyed.
Shivute, who received the petition on behalf of NamRa was also asked to declare his assets, including his alleged ownership of two shops at China Town.