Everything may not be said and done when it comes to Air Namibia. Deputies from Namibia’s ruling SWAPO party have joined forces with the country’s largest civil servants union, questioning the reason for the liquidation and how it was decided. Demonstrations are planned for Wednesday in solidarity with close to 650 people who will lose their jobs if the airline is shut down.
Pressure in the reversal joint
Just a few days ago, the state-owned African carrier Air Namibia suspended flights and went into liquidation. All passenger operations were canceled at midnight on February 11, and all planes returned to the airline base in Windhoek.
The parliamentary committee of the ruling Southwest African People’s Organization (SWAPO) and several unions have joined forces to put pressure on the government to revoke its decision.
At a meeting of the parliamentary group on Friday, chaired by Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, SWAPO deputies reportedly inquired why they had not been consulted on the decision to liquidate the airline, All Africa reports.
Meanwhile, Namibia’s most prominent workers ’federation, the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), has called on President Hage Geingob to immediately fire Public Enterprise Minister Leon Jooste. The minister was unreliable and misdirected when informing Parliament as to why Air Namibia should have been liquidated, he said, according to NBC.
Protests against the unilateral decision-making process
NUNW represents more than 50% of the population of Namibian civil servants, which is estimated at 100,000 people. He threatens national demonstrations in solidarity with Air Namibia employees. If the liquidation continues, 644 airline workers will lose their jobs.
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The first demonstration is scheduled for Wednesday. NUNW Secretary General Job Muniaro said the focus will remain on removing Minister Jooste from the government. However, in the end, the union also wants the government to reverse its decision to liquidate its airline. NUNW says it was not consulted before the news arrived and that the government should provide additional financial assistance to the carrier rather than shutting it down completely.
“We continue to receive support from the business communities that care about Air Namibia and feel that the government, especially the Minister of Public Enterprises, has made a unilateral decision to liquidate Air Namibia without proper consultation,” Mr. Muniaro said for the whole of Africa.
He also called on all those who were appointed auctioneers to refuse.
Decades of losses and state support
The President of Namibia requested the liquidation of the carrier during his address to the State of the Nation in June last year. The airline received 11 billion US dollars (28.86 million US dollars) of state aid. The last three decades have been constantly in the red.
The latest round of the loan was approved in 2019. The Namibian government then provided the carrier with $ 500 million ($ 1.3 million) so that it could service two of its planes. While the airline may have been important in facilitating Namibia’s growing tourism sector, the last few months have completely halted the immediate prospects in that regard.
It remains to be seen whether the union protests will affect the government or not. The final word may not yet have been held in the Air Namibia saga.
What do you think, is it time for the government to give up its airline or should it be given another chance? Let us know in the comments.