Over 400 unemployed Namibian engineers, architects and quantity surveyors have handed in their CVs to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Willem Goeieman, after a demonstration at the ministry’s offices in Windhoek on Thursday.
The CVs were collected by both the Namibia Society of Engineers (NASE) and the Namibia Council of Architects and Quantity Surveyors (NCAQS).
Goeieman has previously stated in the media that there are no qualified Namibians for the professional posts earmarked for Zimbabweans whose contracts are up for renewal.
The qualified Namibian professionals feel that they are being sidelined in their own country while expatriates are being exempted from regulations and hired in their stead.
The petition was also handed over to the Office of the Prime Minister, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Works and Transport Minister, Alpheus !Naruseb.
The protest by the unemployed engineers comes after !Naruseb last week asked for an exemption for 29 Zimbabweans from certain professional registration procedures to which Namibian professionals must comply.
“As many more CVs of local professionals with various levels of experience continue to flood in, it is clear that Namibians are available and ready to take up employment, serve their country and support their families. The PS’s comments about the lack of available Namibians as the reason foreigners are being hired instead of us, is inaccurate,” the petition from the engineers read.
“In light of the expired MoU between Namibia and Zimbabwe, we call on the Ministry of Works and Transport to advertise all positions including contractual positions of the seconded staff to allow Namibian professionals the opportunity to apply. This is the most transparent means to prove whether there are suitably qualified Namibians to take up those posts as per immigration regulations.” NASE said they will engage all stakeholders, including Home Affairs Minister Pendukeni Ivula-Ithana, Labour Minister, Erkki Nghimtina and the Public Service Commission to clarify their position on government’s preference over Namibians.
In 2012, Namibia and Zimbabwe signed an agreement through which Zimbabwean architects and quantity surveyors would work for the Namibian Government and transfer skills to Namibian understudies.
That treaty has since expired as the five-year time period has lapsed.
There are legal questions pending whether a minister in the Government of one of the treaty’s signatories has the authority to unilaterally extend any aspect of a bi-lateral treaty between governments.
Namibia is under no obligation to continue the contracts of the Zimbabwean professionals employed under the now-lapsed treaty.
In addition, the NASE claims that, “The MOU has failed in its primary objective of skills transfer from seconded professionals to local Namibians. Actual and undisputable results indicate that this experimental five years has expired without even producing a single success story of the intended goals.
“As a country, we are yet to be provided proof that all seconded staff have sufficient working experience to train our local professionals and that they are registered in their own countries as per the MOU conditions,” the letter read.
Government is said to spend N$37 million on salaries annually for 10 Zimbabwean expatriate senior experts, while 78 individuals below the senior expert group cost Government N$9 million in salaries, including housing allowances.