Protesters camp at Haihambo schoolBy: OSWALD SHIVUTE
MORE than 260 pupils from the Haihambo Primary School near Okongo in Ohangwena Region could not start the third school term yesterday because community members were camping at the school and preventing anyone from entering.
People have erected tents outside the school, and children who turned up for school were turned away.A placard fastened to the school gate read: “The parents don’t want the patron and the school principal. They are tired. Please come and talk to us.”
Eliaser Frans, the spokesperson of the group of parents, told The Namibian that they are not happy with the principal, Rosalia Ndamanomhata, and her school management, because they had named RDP opposition party president Hidipo Hamutenya as the school patron without the parents’ consent.
They are also dissatisfied with the donations Hamutenya has made to the school and demanded that they be returned.
According to Frans, the Directorate of Education had demanded an official letter from Ndamanomhata to confirm that Hamutenya had been chosen as patron by the parents and the school board. He claimed that she refused to respond.
“Because of all this, the parents are angry now, and have decided to close the school until their demands are met,” said Frans.
Ndamanomhata described the protest as politically motivated. She said when Hamutenya was asked to be the school’s patron in 2007, many of the parents, including Frans, who was the chairman of the school board at the time, were present and gave their approval.
According to Ndamanomhata, Frans and the school board he chaired had already used the money donated by Hamutenya and she found it strange that they now didn’t want to use the fencing material he had given the school.
She added that the new school board, elected last month, had responded to the Director of Education on the Hamutenya patronage.
Apparently the majority of the new school board members are RDP supporters, while the old board, led by Frans, were mainly Swapo supporters.
The chairperson of the new school board, Nailoke Julius, told The Namibian that the people demonstrating in front of the school were Swapo supporters. She claimed that they had been ordered by Swapo leaders in the region to take this action.
“This is totally a politically motivated action that cannot be tolerated, because the learners are the ones who are suffering the consequences,” Julius said.