Andrew Kathindi

The Government is not backing down from its decision to voluntarily liquidate Air Namibia, after Finance Minister, Iipumbi Shiimi, yesterday (Thursday) defended government’s stance on the matter.

“At this stage, the country’s economy can no longer afford to perpetually provide financial support to Air Namibia at the expense of supporting economic growth and critical social services. It is, therefore, with that consideration that government took a decision to file for the voluntary liquidation of Air Namibia,” said the Finance minister.

This comes as Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa was also quoted by the local media saying government will not back down on the liquidation decision despite mounting pressure from members of the ruling party and trade unions.

The Government stance, appears to have rendered fruitless a mass demonstration led by the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), who rallied all their members to hand over an official petition to both the Secretary General of Swapo, Sophia Shaningwa, and the Prime Minister, both of whom sat in the cabinet meeting that approved the liquidation of Air Namibia.

Among the list of NUNW’s demands was the quick removal of Public Enterprises minister, Leon Jooste, and that cabinet’s decision on the national airliner be reversed.

The union further accused the Government of not consulting them on the matter, an allegation Shiimi denied, arguing that extensive consultations had been done.

“The matter has been on the agenda of the Cabinet Committee on Treasury (CCT) for quiet sometimes now and we have been really working very hard to explore every possible option to save our national airline, Air Namibia. I must also announce that we had a number of engaging meetings with the trade unions representing Air Namibia employees.”

“We have also made representation to senior representatives of National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW). It is very surprising to hear that the unions are claiming that they were not consulted, while they already by July/August 2020 knew that the Government had decided that Air Namibia was no longer affordable and it should therefore be liquidated.”

The Government stance comes as Air Namibia was expected to pay its first instalment yesterday (Thursday) , inline with a court settlement reached with Challenge Air to settle a N$189 million debt owed to the air craft lease company.

Jooste told Windhoek Observer that Government did not have the money to comply with the agreement.Shiimi previously stated that government would study the agreement before pronouncing itself on the matter.