Tsumeb Residents Enraged Over Foreign Labour

Traffic on the busy B1 road through Tsumeb came to a standstill last week Friday as residents of the Oshikoto Region’s copper town took to the streets in protest of construction company Murray amp Roberts employing cheap labour from India at the expense of the local townsfolk.

‘Down Dundee down’, ‘We want bread’ and ‘Down corruption down’ were some of the chants that punched the air as the protesters marched to the Tsumeb smelter and then to the town council’s offices where they submitted their petition.

Tsumeb residents are accusing Canadian company Dundee Precious Metals, which owns the Tsumeb smelter, as well as Murray amp Roberts that is busy building the sulphuric acid plant at the smelter, of corruption and giving employment to foreigners at the expense of locals.

Murray amp Roberts did not respond to questions put to it by New Era by the time of going to press.

The protestors were made up of ordinary Tsumeb residents as well as members of the business community. Germanus Uupindi is one of the business owners who accused Murray amp Roberts of undermining the government by cashing in on cheap labourers from India, while claiming Namibians are incompetent.

“This company is hiring cheap labour at the expense of Namibian people and to add insult to injury, the Indians they are bringing in are semi-skilled. What is the government going to do about this? One company cannot say Namibians are incompetent, while there are unemployed graduates all over this country,” alleged Uupindi.

He added that Murray amp Roberts should stop using time constraints and so-called unforeseen circumstances to pump Indians into Namibia. “Is this their first time building a sulphuric acid plant in the world? No matter what you build, be it a house or shack there will always be unforeseen circumstances, that is why one needs to plan ahead,” said Uupindi. The residents questioned the sureness of the N$2.3 billion dollar project. “How sure is the Minister of Mines and Energy that this plant will be a success if it is being built in such a hurry?

“Delays might be dangerous but everyone knows speed kills, also when things go wrong. The Indians are contractors and will be long gone within six months,” said an angry Shindume Fanuel. Uugulu Ananias, another local, alleged that recruiting foreigners was another injustice to Tsumeb residents as they have already been at the mercy of arsenic contamination from mining activities in the area for years.

“These jobs are a rare chance for locals to benefit from the mine, so it is very disappointing to see our people being side-lined when jobs come into the picture,” he said.

“It is time for the government we voted for to show that they are worthy of our votes. Our forefathers fought for the liberation of this country, they did not shed blood and sacrifice their lives so that the fruits of their struggles should be enjoyed by Indians,” said an enraged Sakaria Shilomboleni.

“This company is so arrogant that one of its employees insulted Tsumeb’s first citizen. Nobody wants those Indians in Tsumeb … if nothing is done there will be no peace in this town,” said an angry resident who asked for anonymity.

Source : New Era