by Luqman Cloete
THE Mineworkers Union Namibia (MUN) has urged the government to ensure a healthy working environment at mines in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a media statement issued yesterday, MUN southern region chairperson Shavuka Mbidi called on the mines and energy minister as well as the minister of labour to act decisively and come up with strict directives to be implemented by mining companies in response to Covid-19.
“The leadership of MUN southern region is urging both mines and labour ministers to put strict precautionary measures and regulations in place to ensure that mineworkers are protected against the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.
In addition, Mbidi called on labour minister Utoni Nujoma to ensure that labour inspectors are visible on the ground to ensure mine bosses comply with such regulations or precautionary measures.
“What we are now witnessing is that all is left in the hands of (mine) company management to implement whatever they feel like implementing as there are no clear directives given by the line ministers – of labour and of mines and energy – as to what the mine management should do to curb spread of the Covid-19 at mines,” he said.
The unionist remarked that the ministers must leave their “comfort zones in Windhoek” and become visible on the ground to deal with the coronavirus.
“For the past five years, former labour minister Erkki Nghimtina never visited the southern region, despite the fact that //Kharas region is home to three mining giants for zinc and diamonds,” he noted.
That, he added, is not what the union expects from the new labour minister.
“We will wake him up, and have serious problems with him if he follows the example of his predecessor,” Mbidhi warned.
Both Tom Alweendo (mines minister) and his labour counterpart, Utoni Nujoma, could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press as their cellphones went unanswered.
SUSPECTED CORONAVIRUS CASE
Meanwhile, Trevali Rosh Pinah mine general manager Christo Horn on Tuesday announced in an audio clip widely circulated on social media that an employee, Francis Rietz was advised by her medical doctor to go into self-isolation after battling with flu for two weeks.
He said Rietz was tested for Covid-19, and the results were expected today.
“We must unite in prayer, and trust God to watch over Francis, and to heal her promptly,” he remarked.
Horn said, mineworkers, who might have come into physical contact with Rietz over the past 10 days, were also advised to self-quarantine.
In addition, Horn urged mineworkers to wear masks and gloves to curb the spread of Covid-19 among themselves.