Fishermen select committee talks tough to ministers

Martin Endjala

The Parliamentary Select Committee of the National Assembly tasked to investigate the mass resignation of fishermen employed under the governmental employment redressing programme had the ministries of Fisheries and Marine Resources and Labour and Industrialisation under scrutiny at Parliament this morning.

Last week the committee conducted hearings with the 612 fishermen who resigned in mass, trade unions and fishing companies at Walvis Bay.
The committee chairperson Tjekero Tweya questioned the slow reaction of the two ministries, saying that they did so only after learning through the media.
This, he said, is unacceptable as they are supposed to be on top of these issues.
Tweya further highlighted that the issue has been prolonged for way too long, hence, the National Assembly had to be roped in to investigate.
According to the select committee investigation, some fishermen were told not to report for duty, but were getting a monthly allowance of N$4000.
PDM MP on the committee, Elma Dienda indicated that a company by the name of Walu fishing extended a letter of invitation to the Ministry of Labour proposing for a solution to the 612 fishermen.
A meeting in this regard is supposed to have taken place but no documentation has been made public.
The committee, is however, in consultation with the said company which is prepared to pay the fishermen N$9000, if given a quota.
However, Ministry of Fisheries Executive Director Annely Haipene informed the committee that Walu is not a fishing right holder and thus disqualifies cannot get a quota on the basis the redressing programme was originally agreed to.
According to Haipene, the MD of Walu allegedly said they are prepared to pay the workers N$9000 if they resign from their current employers.
This proposal from Walu, Haipene believes started the sudden mass resignation.
She also told the select committee that Walu representative was told by Minister Derek Klazen that a quota cannot be extended to a non-right holder.
The select committee further questioned why companies are offered quotas when they don’t meet the requirements.
Tweya then lashed out in disappointment, saying measures must be put in place to hold such companies accountable for non-compliances.
The committee chairman gave a directive to the two ministries to provide all relevant information including new quota awards for them to make the necessary findings and recommendations.
This, he said, will put parliament in a position to make informed decisions in the interests of the plight of the fishermen.

By Observer