Zim pharmacist wins work permit orderBy: WERNER MENGES
THE Ministry of Home Affairs must issue an employment permit to a Zimbabwean pharmacist who was told to leave Namibia two weeks ago, it was ordered in the High Court in Windhoek yesterday.
While Namibia is said to be experiencing an acute shortage of pharmacists, Zimbabwean pharmacist Brian Chikwata had to go to the extent of suing the Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, the Immigration Selection Board and the Chief of Immigration to enable him to stay in Namibia and take up employment with a pharmacy at Outapi.
An urgent High Court application by Chikwata yesterday resulted in Acting Judge Jesse Schickerling issuing an interim order in which an Immigration Selection Board decision to reject Chikwata’s application for an employment permit was set aside.
The Board was further ordered to issue Chikwata with a twelve-month employment permit within ten days.
The costs of Chikwata’s application are to be paid by the Minister, the Immigration Selection Board and the Chief of Immigration, it was also ordered.
The court’s order will operate as an interim interdict pending the finalisation of an application in which Chikwata is asking the court to finally review the decision to turn down his application for an employment permit, Acting Judge Schickerling said.
In an affidavit filed with the court, pharmacist Charles Locke, who is the owner of a company that runs four pharmacies in northern Namibia, informed the court that his company has offered Chikwata employment at its pharmacy at Outapi.
Locke stated that this was done after the company had struggled without success to recruit a Namibian citizen to work at its pharmacy at Outapi. He also stated that Namibia is desperately in need of qualified pharmacists and that there are too few Namibian nationals qualified as pharmacists, leaving both the private sector and Government with no choice but to recruit pharmacists from outside the country more often than not.
Chikwata was previously employed as a pharmacist with the Ministry of Health and Social Services from March 2009 to the end of February last year.
The pharmacy at Outapi, where eight other people are also employed, would have to close if no pharmacist was found to work there, Locke claimed.
Chikwata was offered employment at the Outapi pharmacy in February this year.
He first applied with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration for an employment visa in March this year, but was told that his application was rejected and that he would have to apply for an employment permit instead, the court was informed.
He then applied for an employment permit in early May. On October 13, he received a reply from the Immigration Selection Board, which informed him that his application was rejected and that he would have to leave Namibia within seven days.
Chikwata, represented by lawyer Norman Tjombe, filed an urgent application with the court the next day.
Government lawyer Charles Chanda represented the respondents during yesterday’s proceedings.