Foreign Policy Blogs

Karonda Wins Over Namibian Workers on Bread and Butter Issues

It seems that Evilastus Karonda’s re-election as the Secretary General of Namibia’s largest trade union federation at its fifth Congress which ended on Sunday September 5 in the capital Windhoek is a victory for the Namibian workers. Apparently, Karonda’s championship of bread and butter issues affecting the workers earned him enmity among his colleagues in the union leadership who wanted him out of the trade union’s top management structure.

He, among others, is someone believed to be vocal against corruption, and is reported for not being in favor of allowing union representatives to serve in top management structures of private companies, government, and parastatals. But most importantly, he also is against the National Union of Namibian Workers’ (NUNW) stance against the Basic Income Grant (BIG), an anti-poverty proposal that is calling for the provision of a universal grant of N$100 to all Namibians (irrespective of their income level) in Namibia in order to address Namibia’s widespread poverty and inequality. In a move that is being criticized as politically motivated, out of the blue the NUNW withdrew from the BIG Coalition, a coalition made up of Namibia social movements and several civil society groups.

The BIG proposal is pitting the Pohamba administration against the powerful Namibia BIG coalition which is accusing the government and politicians of only being interested in their own pockets instead of helping the poor. However, social just is one thing and whether this grant would achieve its intended goals is another thing. I see (given the politicians’ elitist lifestyle) the contradictions and hypocrisy the coalition is talking about, but I personally think that the BIG initiative (in its current form as being presented by its proponents) is good politics, but terrible economics.

Nonetheless, in return, not only was Karondo re-elected with overwhelming votes, but the congress participants also rewarded him with bread and butter oriented resolutions that he strongly has been advocating for, including (read more@

The Fifth Congress of National Union of Namibia Workers, NUNW, has resolved that the management of the Government Institutions Pension Fund, GIPF, be dismissed with immediate effect.

The congress also decided that the whole GIPF Board of Trustees be suspended.

The umbrella union appeals to President Hifikepunye Pohamba to set up a Special Commission of Inquiry into the findings of the Namibian Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority, NAMFISA, into the GIPF affairs, particularly the development capital portfolio.

The NUNW Secretary-General, Evilastus Kaaronda, told the NBC News and Current Affairs that it was clear from the Congress deliberations that immediate measures were necessary to stop the alleged plundering of public resources and restore public confidence in the GIPF.

The Congress also made an urgent call for the workers to be allowed to borrow a surplus of their pensions for the purposes of development, acquisition of housing and other fixed assets as well as for entrepreneurial opportunities.

Meanwhile, the NUN Congress has resolved that the umbrella union reconsider its decision regarding the withdrawal from the Basic Income Grant, BIG, Coalition.

Kaaronda notes that the Congress directed that the Central Executive Committee decision to abandon the BIG be reviewed and that the organization rejoin the Coalition for the benefit of the workers.

However, the workers propose that the primary basis of rejoining should be made clear that the transformation of the BIG into a Basic Needs Assistance or Provision Programme of Government.

The Congress further argues that poverty is not only an absence of income, but it goes beyond that and issues of socio-economic development must form part of the basic income approach.

Over 600 delegates representing their union affiliates to the NUNW, attended the Congress.



Ndumba J. Kamwanyah

Ndumba Jonnah Kamwanyah, a native of Namibia in Southern Africa, is an independent consultant providing trusted advice and capacity building through training, research, and social impact analysis to customers around the world. Mos recently Ndumba returned from a consulting assignment in Liberia in support of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
In his recent previous life Ndumba taught (as an Adjunct Professor) traditional justice and indigenous African political institutions in sub-Saharan Africa at the Rhode Island College-Anthropology Department.

He is very passionate about democracy development and peace-building, and considers himself as a street researcher interested in the politics of everyday life.
Twitter: NdumbaKamwanyah