WINDHOEK – After a three-year public spat between the Namibian Police Inspector-General Sebastian Ndeitunga and president of the Namibia National Labour Organisation (Nanlo), Evilastus Kaaronda, the latter is still of the opinion that there is a need to democratise police industrial relations.
In an interview with New Era yesterday, Kaaronda said the need to unify police personnel is more important now than ever before due to the “overwhelming fact that police officers’ working and living conditions have not improved over the years when compared to other government staff, especially teachers”.
In 2012, teachers held an illegal national strike for salary hikes that halted normal teaching and learning at many public schools countrywide. Subsequent to that all civil servants got a salary adjustment across the board.
However, yesterday Ndeitunga was not in a compromising mood and had no kind words for Kaaronda, reminding him once again: “Just leave the police alone. The police are apolitical and they cannot join trade unions because they (trade unions) are politically based and orientated.”
The Police Act does not allow police officers to join any trade union, he said.
“He must leave us alone. Why can’t he tackle the NDF?” Ndeitunga questioned.
The unionist also accused the police top management of promoting only “a few selected individuals who are already high ranking” at the expense of lower ranking officers.
Due to poor working conditions and low salaries, Kaaronda says, police officers are inclined to accept brides from the public to conceal criminal activities.
He cited recent media reports saying some police officers in the Khomas Region have not yet received their remuneration for work executed during the general elections in November last year. Police officers were apparently promised a daily allowance of N$540.
“We as (Nanlo) leadership are still seized with the matter to democratise police industrial relations more in line with the ethos of our country’s constitution. There is no need for police authorities to be afraid of unions. We live in a democratic state, but you have serious abuse of power in the police system. They just abuse people as if they are tools that can be thrown away. If the inspector-general speaks then that’s the order of things,” Kaaronda noted.
He added that there is a need for “democratic participation in the police force” to achieve good policing in the country.
Kaaronda further claimed the salaries of police officers below the rank of chief inspector have not been re-graded, which he says speaks volumes of poor living conditions due to low salaries.
“We are still of the stance that there is a need for police officers to join a union as these people are not protected. In my view, police officers need to join Nacspu as it is the right union to represent them,” he said. The Namibia Civil Servants and Parastatals Workers Union (Nacspu) is one of the affiliates of Nanlo, said Kaaronda.
“As the name suggests this union operates in the public service, parastatals as well as municipalities or local authorities. The other affiliate is the Metal, Mining, Maritime and Construction Union in short, MMMC. The name is self-explanatory. The key idea is to have as many industries under one union as possible and avoid unnecessary fragmentation of workers and their interests,” Kaaronda said
By New Era Staff Reporter