KATIMA MULILO - The management of Shoprite has been accused of tribalism after it served 26 employees in the Zambezi region with a notice to appear before a disciplinary hearing in Katima Mulilo.
“You are hereby given formal written notice that you are requested to attend a formal disciplinary hearing into the allegations detailed in this document. It must be noted that these remain allegations and that the company has made no decision as to your guilt in this regard. After your hearing, management will assess all testimonies and evidence to establish a finding on each allegation, followed thereafter by a sanction,” the notices read.
One of the affected staff members’ letter states, “The hearing will consider the allegation(s) that on or about the 10-12 June 2020 and 6-7 July 2020, you allegedly committed misconduct in the workplace. Misconduct indicated include gross negligence, alternatively poor performance.”
The letter also states that no external representation will be permitted as this is an internal procedure.
Meanwhile, an email brought forward by the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) representative that was sent to the regional human resources manager, Vinzenco Bertolini and operations manager L. Whittaker stated, “Please peruse through attached till packers and cashiers’ CVs and let us know whether we can proceed with the contracts.”
In response to the email, Bertolini reportedly stated, “You can appoint all apart from Caprivians, we need Owambo, Damara, Nama, etc.” The email is dated 18 March 2020 at 08h35.
Nafau secretary-general Jacob Penda stated at the media briefing that Shoprite management made a tribalistic statement in terms of employment through Bertolini when he stated that you can employ other people, apart from the Caprivians.
Penda stated this is a serious matter to exclude all Zambezi residents, that it is discriminatory when it comes to recruitment and is prohibited by the Labour Act, Act, no 11 of 2007, section 5, subsection 2 (a) which prohibits discrimination based on race and ethnic origin.
He further stated, “Shoprite is here in Katima Mulilo, they only want money from the residents of Katima Mulilo and they do not want to create employment for its residents. Where will we end up as Namibians? this cannot be tolerated at all and we condemn it. We call upon all residents of Zambezi region, to take action against this manager of Shoprite who issued a tribalistic statement. We as the workers’ representative demand the immediate dismissal of Bertolini. We want to see this manager dismissed before Friday. If he is not dismissed, we will mobilise all Namibians, so that they can boycott buying Shoprite products, until it complies with the request of workers.”
According to Penda, “The same manager who issued the statement came here taking pictures in the store and afterwards, he issued the notice for mass hearings of more than 26 employees to be dismissed in order to make way for Owambos, Namas and Damaras to be employed here and to get rid of all Zambezi residents.”
He demanded the hearings be postponed until the company provides the union with all the evidence Shoprite intends to use during the planned mass hearings so that the union would have enough time to prepare with its members.
This is so that the workers get fair representation during hearings.
Penda accused Shoprite of issuing a notice of hearing to someone who was not on duty, who was on sick leave on that particular day.
“When you look at the charges against the employees, they are dismissal charges and therefore, we want to represent our members because they cannot defend themselves,” stated the unionist.
When approached for comment, Bertolini responded, “We are not mandated to speak to the media. Any media matters, questions must be directed to our head of corporate communication in South Africa who normally address media