THE Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) finds itself mired in controversy following allegations of constitutional violations during its congress at Ongwediva on 5 and 6 May.
The dispute revolves around the election of the general secretary, which has led to calls for an investigation by the Office of the Labour Commissioner.
In a letter to the labour commissioner dated 20 July, which The Namibian has seen, Ambrosius Katjiukua raised concerns over the election process, citing a violation of Section 62 of the Labour Act, 2007.
He said the election was marred by the participation of an individual who was not an MUN member, who subsequently won the general secretary position.
“Should your office . . . believe that indeed there was a violation of the Labour Act 2 . . . to declare the current MUN general secretary, George Ampweya, as elected illegally and to deem the election of the general secretary position as void,” said Katjiukua, who declined to comment when contacted.
An investigation into the union’s finances was one of the key resolutions passed by the congress. This means the NEC is now mandated by congress to scrutinise the union’s finances and determine whether the workers’ money was missing or mismanaged.
The new leadership is expected to table the report at an NEC meeting this weekend at Swakopmund.
Last month, The Namibian reported that an MUN audit revealed unaccounted expenditure of N$18 million between 2015 and 2021.
Ampweya and former general secretary Ebben Zarondo contested for the position, with Ampweya securing 208 votes and Zarondo 88.
Ampweya this week said he was approached by MUN members from the Erongo region who were concerned about the union’s administration and member services.
Despite being a staff member of the union and not a member of the union itself, Ampweya accepted the nomination to run for the general secretary position.
He said the MUN congress would ultimately have the last say.
“I fell under the members of the national executive committee,” he said.
Ampweya said the congress decided to accept his nomination. Before running for the general secretary position, he held the position of the Erongo regional organiser.
MUN president Ismael Kasuto also said the supreme authority of the MUN is the congress.
He said national office bearers are usually dissolved by the congress before the next leadership election.
“The position of the person who stood against Ampweya and contested the May 2023 election outcome was dissolved with the rest of the other national office bearers. It means his contract was terminated with the MUN by the congress at the time of the elections.
“This means he’s not a staff member, nor was he an MUN paid-up member. In his contestation, he is referring to the definition of a member, while he was in a much more compromised position than Ampweya as he was not an active or paid-up member,” Kasuto said.
He asked whether the opposition to Ampweya’s election is based on technicalities or a genuine reflection of the will of MUN members.
“This issue was discussed at length at the congress and was resolved, as far as we know. How can you contest a landslide victory for Ampweya if the results were 208 versus 88?”
Former MUN national secretary Jacky Karumbo said Ampweya’s election was not unconstitutional.
He said the union’s constitution does not prohibit staff members or office-bearers from standing for positions within the union.
Office-bearers can indeed stand for the position of general secretary, but not for the presidential position, he said.
“Previous staff members have also become general secretaries and assistant general secretaries.”
Former general secretaries who were union staff members include Joseph Hengari, Jonas Lumbu and Peter Naholo.
Karumbo called for acceptance of the democratic process.
He said the election of staff numbers to the general secretary and assistant general secretary positions are not confined to the MUN alone, but applies to several labour unions.
Deputy labour commissioner Kyllikki Sihlahla did not respond to calls or messages sent to her by the time of going to print.