New Nunw Leadership Elected At Chaotic Congress

THE National Union for Namibian Workers (NUNW) held its sixth congress at Swakopmund and elected its new leaders albeit in a chaotic atmosphere as unions disagreed about former deputy minister of defence, Peter Iilonga, being nominated for the secretary general position of the umbrella union.

Two days of interaction between about 350 delegates from the various unions climaxed on Thursday night as the unions nominated their candidates to lead them. What was supposed to end at 19h00 on Thursday dragged on until 04h30 Friday – only hours before NUNW was supposed to host the main May Day event at Walvis Bay where President Hage Geingob would have delivered the keynote address.

Some unions believed Iilonga, as an associate member of NUNW, should be able to be nominated for secretary general while others maintained that he was not a member and according to the NUNW constitution he was no allowed to be nominated.

Barbara van der Westhuizen’s appointment as NUNW’s national treasurer went smoothly as she faced no opposition but it reached a deadlock as soon as Iilonga was nominated.

The dispute over the legality of his nomination went on for hours with calls from delegates to boycott the rest of the congress.

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN), who presided over the election process, even started packing up their electronic voting machines and were ready to leave as no agreement could be reached on the way forward – with only Van der Westhuizen as a duly elected office bearer at that stage.

Several senior representatives of the unions said the way the congress climaxed into chaos was a “disgrace and embarrassment to the leaders and the union”, while others said that the three day congress was expensive and cost valuable time and effort, and that this sort of conclusion would be a shame and a loss for the unions.

An attempt to compromise was also cheered for on the one hand and shouted down on the other. The attempt was to have Van der Westhuizen take the role of leadership of the NUNW and that legal aice be sought on the issue of Iilonga’s nomination as an office bearer in light of the union’s constitution – and possible amendments thereof.

In a turn of events the delegates decided to vote within a vote as to whether Iilonga could be nominated as an office bearer. He was outvoted and therefore could not stand in the election. The ECN stayed and the election process continued.

The results were announced by 04h30 on Friday.

Ismael Kasuto claimed the presidency of the NUNW with 134 votes against Lazarus Nangolo with 131 votes. Job Muniaro was voted secretary general of the NUNW with 123 votes. His opponent, John Ndeutepo, received 85 votes. Albert Liswaniso won the first vice presidency with 134 votes, with Stephen Siseho mustering only a single vote at 133. Philipus Munenguni is now the NUNW’s second vice president as he got 126 votes ahead of Jessy Nambanza with 108 votes. Ndeshi Maputa will be Van der Westhuizen’s vice at 148 votes from 264.

The May Day event, attended by thousands of people, were disappointed to hear that their new President could not make it due to other official commitments.

Source : The Namibian