No Payout of Rössing Pension Surplus

THE Roumlssing Pension Fund (RPF) surplus estimated at about N$450 million will not be paid out to anyone until the High Court of Namibia decides how much the beneficiaries will get.

This was said by the chairman of the Board of the RPF Trust, Hosea Angula, when approached for comment on the status quo of the matter in which former Roumlssing workers are claiming a piece from the long-contended surplus cake.

The RPF Trust had set aside 15% of the amount for the former workers, which the Forum of Former Roumlssing Workers (FFRW) was not satisfied with and eventually decided to settle the matter in court.

The contention went public in 2008 when the FFRW, spearheaded by former Roumlssing worker Winston Groenewald, started a process in which it is requesting a ‘fair and equitable’ share of the surplus for about 10 000 former workers (dead and alive) who had worked at the mine and contributed to the pension fund since the mine opened in 1975.

The matter has evolved to its current High Court action where lawyers for the FFRW and the RPF Trust are waiting for a judge to decide on a date on which the parties will aance their arguments for him to hear and rule on. There are others who are also claiming a stake: pensioners, current employees and the mine itself and then the former workers also seem to be divided between those who claim they do not care for a fight in the high court and will take what they can, and those under the FFRW who urge patience.

A former Roumlssing employee, Jonas Kalwenya, who claims to represent many ex-Roumlssing workers in the North who are beneficiaries, asked the RPF trust to pay now – regardless of the pending case.

“[We] do not have time and we do not want to wait for the court. Many people are very old. We do not have the money to contribute towards the court. We are tired and we just want our money [no matter] how small it may be. We can no longer be kept hostage by the [FFRW],” he said in a letter to the trust.

In response to this Angula said: “We can’t deal with some of the people when there is a case pending. There are all those who registered but who are not party to the proceedings whereas the FFRW are saying they represent everybody. There are people who say that they did not instruct FFRW to act for them. Until the case is done, the fund cannot deal with the money, which is sitting in the fund and is allocated to those former members. It cannot be distributed piecemeal, mainly because one does not know what the court is going to say. If FFRW succeeds in what they are asking for, then the money will be distributed accordingly. But if they don’t succeed then the fund will distribute the money according to what they think is the right way to do so whether it will be divided equally amongst all the people, or whether we will use a formula.” Groenewald in turn told The Namibian that he could not go into the merits of the matter because it was sub judice.

As for claims that he was not given the mandate by some members to act for them, he said: “Our committee conducted meetings throughout the country to obtain mandates for the instituted action. Last year a meeting was conducted in the North where approximately 120 participants were present. After thorough discussions, a proposal was made to follow the current route. The overwhelming majority of the members applauded our current line of action.” As for the allegation of the FFRW keeping the people hostage, Groenewald said: “It is a personal opinion of collecting the crumbs under the table instead of a fair and equitable distribution. We are all getting old, however maybe the benefits would be much better appreciated by our future generation.”

Source : The Namibian