Govt. must have 50 per cent stake in all mines: Muniaro

WINDHOEK: Secretary General (SG) of National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) Job Muniaro urged government to own 50 per cent shares in all mines in the country in order to bring about enormous benefits for Namibia which will come from the level of equity ownership in addition to the direct returns to government through taxation and royalties.

In an exclusive interview with Nampa on Tuesday, Muniaro said Namibia cannot afford any more to be exploited passively by foreign investors through owning all the mines and Exclusive Prospecting Licences (EPLs).

‘All the mines currently are owned by foreigners and no much benefits come from them in terms of employment creation and value addition to our natural resources,’ he said, adding that it looks like Namibia is on sale where investors come and exploit the country’s natural resources for the benefit of their companies.

He singled out Rossing Uranium mine , which he said the government owns only three per cent of shares in the mine, while the rest of the shares are owned by foreigners.

Rio Tinto Group, a British-Australian multinational metals and mining corporation owns the majority of shares (69 per cent) in Rossing Uranium limited, while the Namibian government has a three per cent shareholding, but it (government) has the majority 51 per cent when it comes to voting rights.

The Iranian government Foreign Investment company also owns 15 per cent in the Rossing Uranium mine, a stake that was acquired during the set-up of the company in the early 1070s, while the Industrial Corporation of South Africa owns 10 per cent, and local individual shareholders own a combined of three per cent shareholding.

Muniaro also took a sipe on the recently-commissioned Husab Mine, which he said is also majority owned by foreigners.

The Hong Kong-based Taurus Minerals Limited owns 90 per cent of Husab Uranium Mine, while the remaining 10 per cent owned by Epangelo Mining Company, the Namibian state-owned mining company.

‘This is unacceptable. we want the government to own 50 per cent shares in all mines in the country. We want Namibians to benefit from our naturals resources,’ stressed the newly elected NUNW’s SG, saying that if the government cannot fight for the 50 per cent shares in the mines, the union will take over the fight in shareholdings of mines.

Muniaro also lashed out to foreigners whom he said have taken over Institutions such as TransNamibia, Air Namibia and Road Contract Company (RCC), hopsitals among others in the name of ‘skills transfer’ syndrome and turn-around strategies.

Muniaro said the country will not tolerate skills transfer ‘syndrome’ where expatriates are hired to transfer skills to Namibians but failed to do so, instead they become the managers in some of the strategic institutions in the country.

He alleged that the government is hiring pensioners (expatriates about 60 years) to transfer skills to Namibians while sending local people on retirements at the age of 60.

Muniaro also claimed that so far no Namibians has gained skills from the skills transfer program.

‘Skills transfer program has failed, no Namibian has benefited from it,’ he fumed.

Government has all along encouraged expatriates in Namibia to transfer skills to ensure the country has the local talent necessary to drive further economic growth, expansion and prosperity.

Muniaro was quick to say foreigners are welcome in Namibia and welcome to live in the country, so long they come with good and genuine cause in helping develop the country and its people.