By Confidente Reporter
CONTROVERSY is brewing over the alleged unconstitutional planning of a Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (NAFAU) congress by its acting general secretary, Jacob Penda and his associates without an audit into the affairs of the country’s oldest union since 2014.
Despite all the confusion, Penda in a letter dated September 16 indicated that the congress is to take place between October 6 and 10 in Keetmanshoop.
Sources said that there have been no checks into the union’s affairs since Penda took over in 2014 despite gross allegations of financial mismanagement. Sources also said that Penda did not report union activities and finances to the central executive committee (CEC), the highest decision making body. The sources fear that without an audit, which is critical for the congress that decides the union’s future, many will go unpunished which will result in the new management adopting current problems.
“The central region is excluded from the congress that Penda and his favourites are organising. This is unconstitutional because there is no record of the union’s affairs. Decisions of the union’s future amongst other burning issues are made at congress but this time around there will be nothing to talk about without the results of audits. Normally three or four committees are tasked to arrange the congress but as it is right now, it is only Penda and a selected few that are doing it,” a source said. “Things are not well with the union, money is misused, workers are not represented effectively and this has resulted in many resigning from the union. There is no accountability and that channel of communication between Penda and the CEC is not used properly. The CEC is also in the dark about union affairs,” the source further said.
Penda is also accused of unconstitutionally organising regional conferences in the run up to the congress. The Kavango East and West branches have however asked for the nullification of their conference citing lack of communication from central region on the event.
In a letter to the union’s management dated September 19, Penda’s involvement in the conference was questioned especially because he did not communicate in writing about the event.
“…Acting general secretary informed us on 14 September telephonically that the regional conference will be held in Rundu and that our branch organiser must prepare accomodation for the guest which was short notice. We could not take it when we held a meeting on Thursday, September 15 evening. He is supposed to put it on black and white so that we can write letters to the company to release the B.E.C and not shop steward to attend like other branches from the north who brought shop steward to attend a regional conference that is unconstitutional. Why did the acting general secretary not give us money into our branch account so that we organise our regional conference?
“As per our demarcation only Katima who attended, Rundu and Tsumeb were not part of it. Therefore they did not form a quorum. The other branches that attended from the north do not belong to our region. The branch executive committee would like to have free and fair regional conference based on demarcation that was set up by the congress. …Please nullify unconstitutional regional conference that took place in Rundu,” reads the letter.
Contacted for comment, an unfazed Penda said that he was not in position to respond to allegations made saying there are other channels to comment on such matters. “I am not in a position to talk about these matters because there are platforms where I respond to such things.”
Earlier this year, Confidente reported that the union could not account for over N$1 million which was attributed to a lack of accountability by the union’s management to its employees and members including mismanagement of funds, spending without proper approval and inadequate disclosure of financials. The union, once renowned for its stronghold in the fishing industries around Walvis Bay and Luderitz, is also said to have lost at least 1 000 members to rival unions since 2014.
The exiting members reportedly cited various reasons including discontent in the way the union deals with their labour related disputes.
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