The Namibia Taxi and Transport Union (NTTU) has decided not to rally behind any political party during this year’s presidential and National Assembly elections. This revelation was made by the NTTU’s president Werner January, in a telephonic interview with the Windhoek Observer this week.
This decision is, however, contradictory to a 19th January 2019 resolution which was taken by the union, which vowed to rally behind incumbent president Hage Geingob. The outspoken January maintained that the union has decided to change course following Geingob’s alleged refusal to grant them an audience.
“We have been trying to get an audience from president Geingob for the biggest part of this year, but to no avail. And because of this utter display of arrogance from the presidency’s side we have decided to withdraw our collective support for his campaign. We are encouraging our members to vote, but each person will have to vote for a party or candidate of his or her choice,” January said.
This year, the union’s leadership made several attempts to get the president to address taxi drivers concerning taxi industry issues such as high traffic fines and the Transport Act. High on the list of discussion points is the union’s demand for traffic fines to be written off and a new transport policy to be implemented. The union further wants all taxi drivers jailed for traffic offences to be pardoned and released.
On the 18th June 2019, a group of taxi drivers under the ambit of the union marched towards statehouse demanding that the president address their economic woes. Again the taxi drivers were blocked midway and referred to the line ministry.
Earlier on, academic and political analyst, Ndumba Kamwanyah told media outlets that the President can only avoid the taxi drivers at his own peril, especially in this year where political parties are vying for votes via undermining each other.
Itula under fire
But president Geingob is seemingly not the only presidential candidate with whom January has a bone to pick. On Monday, January blasted independent presidential candidate Panduleni Itula for allegedly calling him and giving the union ultimatums. January claimed that Itula telephoned him and urged the union to rally openly behind his candidacy, in order for him to speak to their plight in the future. January maintained that the reason why the union will not be associated with all political campaigns is because of the tribalistic and personal stance that most of the crusades have taken.
“Itula might not be a tribalist, but (his) supporters scream tribally charged slogans that are confrontational and their behaviour is not denounced by their presidential hopeful," January charged. He further maintained that president Geingob can be arrogant, but for him to be solely blamed for the collapse of an entire system and to be called names is unwarranted and fallacious.
“The entire Swapo party has failed and that is why I destroyed my Swapo membership card. If Itula wants to suggest that if I don't show support for him openly or secretly he might block my (union’s) activities if he wins, so be it. I have been a lone fighter for my industry for the past fifteen years and didn't get his support even once,” January alleged.