President Condemns Unfair Contracts

President Hifikepunye Pohamba has criticised the management of the Al-DharaNnamibia Development Corporation (NDC) Date Palm project for employing workers on one-month contracts, while the harvesting season lasts between three to four months.

“If a person works for 3 to 4 months then they must sign a contract for three or four months. A person should have (job) security for three months at least, but for a person to work for two years and to be employed on a one-month contract is not right. Where is the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare? Why don’t they see this? A person should have job security of at least six months,” he said. The president made the remarks after learning that one of the workers at the Naute Dam packaging facility has been working there for the past two years, but is usually contracted on a one-month basis only. “When you renew workers’ contracts every month, is it done by law?” the president enquired. Manager of Al-Dhara Sahle Abdul Karda confirmed that they are employing workers on one-month contracts, but said he is unfamiliar with labour practices in Namibia. “Yes, a person can work on a contract, but it is better for them to tell their family I have work for three months. How can they tell their workers that they are working for one month only,” the president shot back.

He however commended the management of the Naute Dam project on the expansion of the project, but reiterated his disappointment over the general treatment of the workers and their poor conditions of service.

Meanwhile, Acting Managing Director of the NDC, Pieter de Wet informed the president that the date project has been very successful and has been expanded to grow five different crops. According to de Wet, the date harvest which is due to start next month is mainly earmarked for export to Europe and some parts of Africa. He said the harvest is expected to be 350 tonnes, with a cost of N$50 per kilogram that is expected to fetch N$15 million this year. Some of the date varieties, such as barhee failed to perform, because of excessive rain during the harvesting period. Growing this particular variety will be discontinued he explained. According to De Wet, the table grape harvest, which ended in January this year produced 117 000 boxes. He further pointed out that the project is only hampered by the limited water supply and that there is confidence that the Neckertal Dam will contribute to solving that problem. Al Dahra established a 50-50 joint venture with the NDC, a government agency that promotes economic growth and the shareholders divide the profits equally. Al Dahra has established itself as a main player in the drive to boost food security in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) through global investments in agriculture. In addition to Namibia, it has operations in Egypt, Pakistan, Spain, Sudan and the US. Within its 14 domestic farms in Al Ain, it produces dates, as well as vegetables and other fruit.

Source : New Era