Advice lands governor in hot water

Voice recordings of a discussion about wage negations between the governor of the Erongo region and senior Husab mine officials have caused a furore.

04 March 2019 | Local News

Cleophas Mutjavikua; Erongo governor; “I never had a secret meeting, but was merely mediating.”

Otis Finck - Erongo governor Cleophas Mutjavikua refuted allegations that he was a sell-out, challenging the authenticity of audio recordings that implicate him taking side in ongoing wage negotiations between the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) and Swakop Uranium.

Mutjavikua called on those who released “edited audio versions” of his conversation to release the complete unedited audio recordings.

“The unedited audio recordings will provide a proper perspective. The selective edited audio clips are a distortion of facts and the discussions and are being taken out of context.”

The Affirmative Repositioning (AR) group released the two recordings via social media on Wednesday and accused the governor of being on the payroll of the Chinese at the expense of the workers.

The AR said activist and intelligence operatives obtained the recordings and undertook to provide legal to assistance to the workers to ensure what they termed fake and corrupt strategies do not work.

Mutjavikua explained at a press conference on Wednesday that he was requested by the MUN Husab branch and Husab management to mediate on their substantive agreement for 2O19 as he did in previous years.

“I never had a secret meeting, but was merely mediating. I also never mentioned the word retrenchment nor did I advise the company to retrench workers. I did make it clear that no one must lose their jobs.”

Reorganisation clause

The governor, himself a former general secretary of MUN, said he simply made reference to the reorganisation clause in the Labour Act in response to a question relating to systems and processes which the company wanted to address.

“The mine insisted on linking half of the annual salary increases to the performance of the company. I advised that there is a recognition agreement which only refers to an annual substantive negotiation, but not the linking of annual salary increases to the performance of the company. The three years substantive agreement the management was referring to is an arrangement which is totally contrary to the recognition agreement.”

The MUN’s Western Region registered its disappointment about the leaked audio recording.

“The governor advised Swakop Uranium to invoke the reorganisation clause in exchange for them acceding to union demands. It is with shock that we learned that those elected/appointed to advance the interest of Namibian citizens are in bed with the enemy under the pretence of advancing “foreign investments,” said MUN Western Region regional chairperson, Abiud Kapere.

The union called on the governor to come clean.

“Our mandate with the company in as far as our industrial relations are concerned, remains unchanged. Swakop Uranium should be warned that MUN remains unshaken and unafraid of the cowardly and unethical conduct throughout legitimate processes.”

Swakop Uranium vice president Percy McCallum distanced the mine from the recordings, saying that both parties (Swakop Uranium and MUN) had agreed to invite the governor as a mediator.

“We (Swakop Uranium) did not record any caucus meetings nor gave permission for any third party to do so. The governor insisted that the company compromise to ensure a speedy and acceptable wage agreement.”

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