No Sick Leave for ‘Babalas’

President Hifikepuyne Pohamba told Neckertal project workers to stop spending their wages on alcohol and instead to commit themselves to the construction of the dam.

“I do not want to hear the next four days you are sick. Money does not make a person sick generally, but only if you do not use it properly. When you get your money you must come back to work and not with a paper from the doctor. I want to tell these doctors no sick leave for people who are sick because of babalas [hangover],” he said. He also told workers that the Neckertal Dam is for their benefit and that they should therefore work hard to have it completed and not be side-tracked by extraneous issues. “We want you to work harder, what should be in your mind must not only be about money, but that we are building our dam. This dam is going to benefit the people of this area and the entire Namibia,” he said. Pohamba also told workers that an irrigation plant will be installed upon completion of the dam and that more employment will be created under the irrigation scheme.

“I am happy to see the plantation of grapes and dates at Naute Dam. We want to do the same thing after completion of this dam. After irrigation we will employ Namibians here,” he said. The president further called on the workers who hail from various parts of the country to work in unison and to treat each other as brothers and sisters. “I want no quarrel, no envy you must work as brothers and sisters,” he pointed out, adding that he is happy with the accommodation structures for employees on site. “The accommodation of workers there [at Naute] are terrible, I am happy to see that you are putting up structures, but putting up structures is one thing. But if you do not want exposure then have accommodation fit for humans. I am impressed with the building, but next time I want to see how many are living in a room,” he said relating his personal experience under the South West African Native Labour Association (SWANLA), as a contract labourer. SWANLA was the contract labour recruitment organisation established in 1943 during World War II to accommodate a rising demand for labour on commercial farms and mines in colonial Namibia and recruited people mainly from the northern parts of the country. It was infamous for its use of contract labour and human rights abuses among those employed in the mines and eventually became the driving force in the creation of opposition political organisations.

“It is good that I worked under SWANLA, because I developed a hate for that treatment and I joined the struggle. You must take care of the safety of workers, but you yourself must be protected so that the falling rocks do not injure you. I hope there will be a clinic here,” he said. He also pointed to the need for women to be respected, especially in the workplace. “We need to respect our mothers. I do not want to hear a woman was beaten or killed in this area. You must we working as sisters and brothers,” he urged.

Source : New Era