The Ministry of Works and Transport has finally followed a High Court order by terminating the contracts of 11 Zimbabwean architects and quantity surveyors whose agreements were supposed to expire in April next year.
This particular group of expatriates came to Namibia in 2014 two years after the 2012 signing of the five-year memorandum of understanding (which formally expired in May, 2017), but were allotted the same five year time limit on their stay in Namibia, with contracts that were set to lapse in 2019.
The Windhoek Observer is reliably informed that the ministry terminated their contracts last week following the High Court order which was issued last year.
The case of the expats dates back to last year December when the high court ruled that the unregistered quantity surveyors and architects should vacate their positions.
However, Cabinet had resolved that those individuals whose contacts were only expiring in 2019 could stay.
The Court ruling was handed down after it emerged that the individuals employed under the ministry were not professionally registered by the Namibia Council of Architects and Quantity Surveyors.
The then Minister of Works and Transport, Alpheus !Naruseb had exempted the Zimbabwean expats from registering as architects or quantity surveyors with the Namibia Council of Architects and Quantity Surveyors.
The High Court ruled that all decisions and acts taken or performed by the council on the basis of !Naruseb's decision were unlawful and thus were reviewed and set aside. As the law is currently written, all who work in Namibia as an architect or quantity surveyor must register with the duly stipulated authorities. The minister has no authority on his own, to waive any aspect of an existing national law.
The Windhoek Observer understands that works Permanent Secretary, Willem Goiemann, has already met with the affected architects and quantity surveyors to tell them that the High Court decision will be enacted.
This means that government may be compelled to pay out the expatriates for the remaining months of their contracts.
Goiemann confirmed that he had complied with the court’s directive to terminate the contracts of six architects and five quantity surveyors, but could not say when they would leave or confirm the amounts that they will be paid for the remaining months on their contracts.
“They are leaving; you people wanted them to leave, so they are going. I do not know what we are going to do. I have said time and time again that we do not have this expertise in the country. People should not come crying to me when things start going bad,” Goiemann said.
The court made the order after the minister, Goiemann and 11 Zimbabwean architects and 18 quantity surveyors employed in the ministry on the basis of the agreement between the governments of Namibia and Zimbabwe did not oppose an application that five Namibian architect firms and four firms of quantity surveyors filed at the Windhoek High Court in mid-September.
In their application, architect firms Marley Tjitjo, Wasserfall Munting, Ricardo Michaels, Agostinho Ferreira, and Kondjeni Nkandi, and quantity surveyor firms Jordaan Oosthuysen Nangolo, Dawid Nel, Sondlo, and Kaurivi were asking the court to set aside !Naruseb's decision to exempt the 29 Zimbabweans employed in the ministry from having to be registered with the Namibia Council of Architects and Quantity Surveyors.
They also asked the court to declare that the five-year agreement concluded between the Namibian and Zimbab¬wean governments in May 2012 lapsed in May last year, and that the 29 Zimbabweans had no right to continue working at the ministry under that agreement.
In an affidavit filed at the court, architect Marley Tjitjo claimed Namibian architects and quantity surveyors were prejudiced by the unlawful occupation of critical positions in the Ministry of Works and Transport by the 29 Zimbabweans, while particularly young architects and quantity surveyors were not able to get employment in the ministry.
Tjitjo argued that !Naruseb's decision to exempt the 29 from having to be registered in Namibia was against the Architects and Quantity Surveyors Act, since the minister did not consult the Namibia Council of Architects and Quantity Surveyors as required by the Act before he made his decision, while the agreement under which the Zimbabweans were employed by the ministry also came to an end in May last year.