WINDHOEK-The Minister of Works and Transport, Erkki Nghimtina, should have been fired over the “scandal” that resulted in the international airport being downgraded and planes diverted, the Congress of Democrats (CoD) said.
Hosea Kutako International Airport was recently downgraded from Category 9 to a lowly Category 5 after the airport failed to fulfil obligatory ICAO requirements on fire safety.
Before the international airport was re-graded over the weekend Air Namibia reportedly incurred huge losses and was scheduled, as part of contingency plans, to use Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka, inconveniencing its passengers.
CoD leader Ben Ulenga made the remarks of the minister of works and transport who has in recent weeks come under a storm of criticism over the Hosea Kutako International Airport fiasco.
Ulenga was speaking at a press conference held at his party’s headquarters, which was convened to make public the party’s stance on the planned constitutional changes.
“This country must develop a culture of firing ministers. I do not want to see people getting fired, but this was it, Nghimtina should have been fired for allowing such a mess to happen,” stressed Ulenga.
“This is not a party-political thing, but I do not understand how he is let off the hook for this. I have nothing against the minister because I know him personally and we even went to school together. It is a pity that I have to speak like this about another comrade, but I have no choice,” said Ulenga.
“Our neighbours must be laughing at us right now,’’ added the CoD leader.
“There were several complaints – some warranted and some unwarranted - but the minister never acted,” he told the media conference yesterday.
The downgrading also saw two deputy chief fire officers at Namibia Airports Company – Jerome Mouton and Raymond Isaak – suspended in a move that some observers feel amounted to scapegoating.
At the press conference, Ulenga described the proposed constitutional amendments as unprincipled, opportunistic and self-serving.
“After careful scrutiny, which included uncovering a lot of smoke and mirrors, the CoD leadership has come to the conclusion that the proposed constitutional amendments are nothing but a desperate, barely concealed ruse aimed at helping Swapo Party out of the latter’s very own, internal and self-created political quagmire,” said Ulenga.
As for the proposed amendment to increase the number of presidentially appointed members of parliament and to give them voting powers, Ulenga said “this is an infringement on the people’s democratic rights to elect their own lawmakers.”
Ulenga recommended that a standing constitutional commission be established to facilitate regular and well-considered constitutional amendments when necessary.
Lawmakers in the National Assembly will today start discussing the proposed constitutional amendments after being given time off last week to peruse the amendments and make the necessary consultations.
By Mathias Haufiku"