Works ministry to rehire Zim engineers

02 March 2018 Author  

Ministry of Works and Transport (MWT) wants to recruit 20 expat engineers from Zimbabwe to fill the 87 vacant posts that were advertised last year.

The Windhoek Observer is reliably informed that out of the 30 names that the ministry has already submitted to the Public Service Commission (PSC) for consideration, 20 are from the group of engineers whose contracts expired last year while 10 are Namibians.

The ministry did not say why it is only filling 30 out of the 87 vacant posts.

The Zimbabwean engineers are set to resume their duties in April this year, albeit with different terms of employment and benefits packages.

The quantity surveyors and architects were interviewed last year for the vacant posts alongside aspiring Namibians, despite a High Court ruling ordering that the expatriates should leave the country.

The Zimbabwean engineers were in Namibia under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that was signed in 2012 and expired in May 2017.

The agreement allowed Harare to provide Windhoek with engineers to work on capital projects, while transferring skills to Namibians. The amount of skills ‘transferred’ to Namibians as per the agreement remains in question.

According to sources, the ministry presented a report to the Zimbabwean Embassy in Namibia of how many of the former ministry employees had been successful in the interviews held last year.

According to the PSC Deputy Permanent Secretary Benhardt Kukuri, the process to of due diligence will be finalised in the next two weeks.

When quizzed about the number of foreigners on the list, Kukuri would only confirm that qualified Namibians will be employed.

“If there are Namibians suitable, then they will be given first preference. If there are problems in our due diligence, we will ask the ministry to go through the process again and re-advertise. If we still do not attract potential candidates needed, we may suggest a competitive individual search process looking at the entire public and private sector,” Kukuri said.

He said in positions where they are requesting for engineers-in-training, they specifically consider Namibians.

The Deputy PS also added that there were some areas such as quantity surveyors and architects where it was difficult to get qualified Namibians.

“What we have realised is that not many locals applied for those particular open positions so we have no choice, but to employ foreigners,” Kukuri said.

MWT Permanent Secretary, Willem Goeieman told The Namibian in January this year that only 3-5 Namibian professionals who applied, qualify for the positions with regards to either registration with the Namibia Council for Architects and Quantity Surveyors or the requisite experience.

This week, he refused to confirm the number of expats who will be re-employed by his ministry.

“It is a mixture of people. We are waiting for the Public Service Commission to get back to us then we will take it from there. Let us rather wait for the commission then we will announce it to the country,” Goeieman said.

The ministry advertised 87 vacancies for civil/structural, electrical, and mechanical engineers, quantity surveyors and architects. 

Thirty-seven out of the 57 Zimbabwean engineers, whose contracts expired, were allowed to re-apply.

Those allowed to re-apply have skills that Namibia still requires, the ministry is arguing.

Last year, The Windhoek Observer reported that the engineers who had been allowed to re-apply would do so under strict conditions which would include a cut in salary and benefits.

They will now get a 40 percent salary cut and will no longer receive free accommodation as is the case currently.

The Zimbabwean engineers, who were earning around N$30,000 per month, will now receive N$18,000 to do the same work and must pay their own rent and living expenses.

WINDHOEK OBSERVER

The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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