The Kunene Regional Council might have paid its workers their December salaries last week, but the High Court observed on Wednesday that the suit against it filed by the Namibia Public Workers Union is not yet finalised.
Judge Eileen Rakow said although the regional council made a U-turn on their decision to withhold their employees’ salaries, there were orders within the urgent application that have not yet been settled.
The regional council decided to withhold the salaries of more than 120 employees after the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development blocked the salary of George Kamaseb, the chief regional officer, stating that his reinstatement was done illegally.
Kamaseb was placed on suspension with full pay on 9 June 2016 on serious allegations of misconduct with tendering processes. He challenged his dismissal, but lost. On 6 June 2021, council, however, took the decision to reinstate him. The ministry, thereafter, approached the high court, and also directed the regional council not to pay him while the matter is before court.
On 5 January, Napwu, represented by Sisa Namandje, filed an urgent application for a court order that would prohibit the regional council, its chairperson and management committee from interfering with the monthly processing and payment of the employees’ salaries.
Napwu also wants the regional council to be prohibited from implementing their 14 December 2021 decision of not processing the employees’ salaries because Kamaseb’s salary was not processed. The decision was communicated to the staff on 20 December last year.
They further seek an order directing the regional council and its chairperson to pay their employees at the end of each month.
During the court proceedings, Namandje indicated that although the regional council went ahead and paid the employees their December salaries, there is still the issue of the suit’s cost and other orders that need to be finalised.
“We are currently conflicted. If we do not get orders that guarantee the employees’ salaries, we do not know what would happen to their salaries in the months to come,” submitted Namandje.
Judge Rakow postponed the case to 8 February for a status hearing, and for Napwu to decide if they will continue with the matter for the remaining orders, or whether they would only pursue the issue of the suit’s cost.
The regional council opted not to show up for the court proceedings.