A political analyst has called for a parliamentary investigation into the turmoil in the fishing industry following a mass resignation of fishermen, who were recently rescued by the government after a prolonged unemployment.
The workers have been on the streets since 2015 when they were laid off following their involvement in an illegal strike. The government stepped in and offered extra fishing quotas to some fishing companies to secure jobs for the fishermen.
However, not all of them could be accommodated at the workplace either at factories or at sea, but they were paid a basic pay of N$4000 while at home.
Recently, workers tendered mass resignations and demand that the quotas be withdrawn from the companies, they be employed gainfully either by these companies or the quotas be transferred to other firms which would employ them on site.
The Popular Democratic Movement has now entered the fray threatening unspecified action against the government should the matter involving the resignation of 600 fishermen not be solved in its totality to the satisfaction of all role players.
“An injury to one is an injury to all. Hence, I am calling upon all peace-loving Namibians to say no to the human rights violation of Namibian fishermen and take action that will bring total freedom to the fishermen,”, PDM secretary general Immanuel Ngaringombe said.
PDM, he said, will visit Walvis Bay to consult with the workers after which they will decide on a course of action.
He clarified that they involvement in the matter should not be seen as political incitement, but rather an attempt to find a lasting solution to these workers and the fishing industry.
He blamee the government for the situation in which the workers find themselves, saying that no measures were put in place to ensure that the workers were not subjected to abuse by the employers.
The intention of the additional quotas to the companies, Ngaringombe said, was to benefit the unemployed fishermen, but it is now only benefiting the managers of the said joint venture companies.
The joint venture comprised of Kuiseb Fishing Enterprises, Hadago Fishing, Cavema Fishing, Rainbow Fishing, Vernier Investment and Camoposatu Investment, which employed the fishermen through the joint venture.
Ngaringombo described the resignations as ‘’forced resignation’’, as employees were allegedly paid peanuts and their employment conditions did not meet the standard of labour relations
“It is therefore disheartening to witness worker slavery in the fishing industry of Namibia after 30 years of independence from colonial rule. This is basically a clear indication of basic human rights violation of the fishermen,” Ngaringombe opined.
However, political analyst Henning Melber echoed his dismay towards Ngaringombe’s words saying that it is evident that political opposition in Namibia is to a ‘’large extent a toothless lion, roaring with no substance’’.
Melber told the Windhoek Observer, that the statement is tantamount to blame game without offered alternatives.
He agrees with Ngaringombe to a certain degree that the government did not put measures in place to protect the well-being of the workers.
But this he said, it offers no cure for ‘worker slavery in the fishing industry’, which Melber deems as a dubious misunderstanding of the term slavery and suggests that the ‘’analysis is following populist
rhetoric to gain appeal’’.
“Declaring that ‘PDM has followed the suffering of fishermen with keen interest’ is tantamount to
admitting an on-looker role. It offers no policy how to solve the crisis. The vague declaration that
“unspecified action” is taken if there is no solution rather indicates that PDM has itself no concrete idea of how this action would look like. In any case it presents no such idea,” Melber opined.
‘’Populist language and stereotypes solve no problems,’’ he said, asserting that the fishermen are no slaves and wage employment offers no total freedom.
He said policy proposals are needed, which are lacking entirely, in PDM’s approach, adding that the statement is more a ‘’declaration of bankruptcy than an alternative to a bankrupt policy’’.
Another Ndumba Kamwenya said that the statement is reactive, while agreeing that the call by PDM for a parliamentary investigation into the issue is justifiable.
He said a commission of inquiry into the fishing industry is needed, opining that there is a lot of
mismanagement and irregularities happening in the industry.