AN outstanding three-try performance by Jona Nareki saw the Otago Highlanders come from behind to beat the Waikato Chiefs 39-23 in their Super Rugby Aotearoa clash in Hamilton on Friday.
LABOUR MINISTER Utoni Nujoma appeared to pull no punches on the Shoprite strike this week. In a public statement, the minister accused the largest retail chain in Namibia of breaking the law and threw his weight behind a boycott of the company.
Alas, if only the minister would walk the talk. While he accused the corporate giant of negotiating with the striking workers in bad faith, he did nothing else except express hope that the parties “reach an amicable solution”.
The workers, who went on strike before Christmas, have been pleading for intervention. Nujoma and his ministry reacted by merely issuing a press statement.
It appears Nujoma has reduced his office to the level of protester or a complainer without power and obligations.
His lack of action does not inspire confidence: Not among workers feeling the harsh squeeze of a conglomerate, nor the South African company that would have wanted to protect its sales and public reputation.
As Nujoma took issue with Shoprite, his ministry's executive director, Bro-Mathew Shinguadja seemed even more listless.
“The ministry directs the negotiating parties to make tangible efforts to resolve the current stalemate in a mutually beneficial and respectful manner and urges both parties to continue negotiating in an open, transparent and genuine manner,” is all Shinguadja had to offer.
In Sacky Shanghala's lingo, that is a lot of rwa, rwa, rwa, wara from the people and institutions with the power to put an end to the impasse.
Nujoma accused Shoprite of paying its workers low wages, which “consign them to a life of deprivation…” He said Shoprite has a troubling history of poor labour practices. He said the manner in which the company is handling the strike by using scab labour, for instance, not only points to bad faith but also to “acting unlawfully”.
Yet the ministry's solution is an appeal to the parties to negotiate and reach an amicable solution?
Labour experts believe the company – that made an operating profit of N$7 billion and net income of N$3,4 billion – will simply use its muscle to frustrate any boycott as well as the courts to squash workers' protection.
Nujoma, who described Shoprite's monthly pay of N$1 200 to N$1 600 as deprivation wages, has the power to set minimum wages. The government has the legal and political dominance to ensure adherence to laws.
Complaining by the very people who are in power to solve problems is cause for despair, to say the least.