WALVIS BAY – Former seamen, who were camping out in front of the Kuisebmond Stadium while on strike, made a U-tun on their chairperson Mathew Lungameni.
The strike that started in October 2015 was declared illegal. The fishermen demanded better salaries, higher medical aid benefits, overtime and housing allowances. However, they were all fired.
Lungameni was on the forefront during the illegal strike. The 700 fishermen accuse Lungameni of being unethical and dodging the Namibia Fishermen United Association, which they established after losing their jobs due to the illegal strike. The group was recently awarded 200 metric tons of hake that was allegedly applied for on behalf of all the unemployed fishermen of both Walvis Bay and Lüderitz.
However, they are alleging that Lungameni has not been transparent with the quota or being accountable with funds raised by fishermen for the court cases they filed while being on strike.
According to Godfrey Kuhanga, this is one of the main reasons why they have roped in the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement to hold Lungameni accountable.
“How can we be part of a quota and donate money while we were unemployed and not being told how it was used. We suffered for almost five years and this is how we are repaid,” he said.
He added that they want Lungameni along with all the directors of the association –both in Lüderitz and Walvis Bay – to step down.
“We want all bank statements, keys, documents and properties to be handed over to the newly elected committee or we will close down the office on 8 June,” he said.
Lungameni hits back
According to Lungameni, the association did receive 200 metric ton quota, but maintained the association does not affiliate itself to any political party but is guided by a constitution and a board is elected every five years.
“We, as fishermen, looked for assistance during our strike and AR was one of the organisations that refused to help us, saying the strike was illegal. Now, you gave them the mandate of the association,” Lungameni said. He added there is no way he will allow AR to take over the labour case he registered on behalf of the striking fishermen.
“AR, to date, has not said anything on the violation of the law by fishing companies or on the demand of the fishermen that government enforce the law. Hence, we are not here to support anybody. You shall all support us because we fight and sacrifice for the working class, Lungameni said.
As for the fishing quota, Lungameni said they are busy registering a trust that will benefit all fishermen that were on strike.
He, however, said preference will be given to those who retired during the strike as well as support granted to the children of those who died before the current ones benefit.