RUNDU - The All People’s Party secretary general Vinsent Kanyetu says the ministry of labour must wake up to ensure that laws are implemented fully by Chinese business people who are accused of abusing Namibians.
“This has to do with our Namibia-Chinese relationship, especially when it comes to Chinese men and women doing business here. I mean we have seen what has transpired earlier this week in Windhoek between the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) Movement and a Chinese businessperson who was confronted by the movement for mistreating Namibian workers,” Kanyetu told journalists last week in Rundu.
AR activists last week confronted the owners of Joe Construction, a Chinese-owned glass company based in Windhoek North.
It is alleged that workers approached AR, saying they don’t have contracts, protective clothing and that they are forced to come to work even when they’re on sick leave.
A spokesman of the company admitted the allegations.
“Not only that, everyday people are crying for being mistreated by the Chinese businessmen and women,” Kanyetu noted.
He stated that Namibia has labour laws in place, which deal with labour related matters.
“But the ministry and minister is too quiet while our people are suffering, so we cannot also just sit here quietly and watch while our brothers and sisters are being mistreated by the Chinese.
“What we are saying is that the ministry must wake up because they are sleeping. They must make sure that labour laws are implemented fully,” he noted.
Kanyetu said whoever does business in Namibia, regardless of nationality must do it in accordance with the law.
“Chinese cannot tell us what to do or how things must be done,” he said.
“For example, here in Rundu there’s a certain Chinese who took timber logs from locals but refused to pay to date. The police have called him and he tells them he deals with big people, not mere officers or locals. He completely refused to pay and the police are unable to help because this Chinese is arrogant claiming he deals with State House, so what is it that we owe these Chinese that we deserve to be treated like this?” Kanyetu asked.
He said the APP is calling upon the Namibian government, and the ministry of labour, in particular, to make sure that Chinese must not set rules for Namibians but must follow the country’s labour laws.
“Going forward, our people will run out of patience. If the Chinese people want to maintain the relationship that we have, they must respect our people and our laws. This goes out to any other foreigners doing business here in Namibia as well as locals,” he said.
Kanyetu said some local companies are also not complying with the labour laws and are misusing workers by paying them below the minimum wage and that they don’t get into proper employment contracts. He said Chinese fire workers whenever they demand their rights and benefits.
“As a party, we are saying no. We can’t continue like this. Something must be done. These are our people and by improving the situation, we are also improving our people’s livelihood, reducing poverty in Namibia,” Kanyetu said.