27 May 2015 09:20am
By Maggy Thomas
WINDHOEK, 26 MAY (NAMPA) - National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) Secretary-General (SG) Job Muniaro has urged Government to own 50 per cent shares in all mines in the country.
This level of equity ownership, he said, will bring about enormous benefits for Namibia in addition to the direct returns to Government through taxation and royalties paid by the mines.
In an exclusive interview with Nampa on Tuesday, Muniaro said Namibia cannot afford any longer to be exploited passively by foreign investors who own all the mines and exclusive prospecting licenses (EPLs).
All the mines are currently owned by foreigners and not much benefits come from them in terms of employment creation and value addition to our natural resources, he said.
The unionist said this makes it look as if Namibia is on sale, as investors come and exploit the country's natural resources for the benefit of their companies.
He singled out the Rössing Uranium mine, in which Government owns only three per cent of shares, while the rest of the shares are owned by foreigners.
Rio Tinto Group, a British-Australian multinational metals and mining corporation, owns the majority of shares (69 per cent) in Rössing Uranium limited. The Namibian government, however, has the majority (51 per cent), when it comes to voting rights.
The Iranian governments foreign investment company owns 15 per cent in the Rössing Uranium mine, a stake that was acquired during the set-up of the company in the early 1970s; while the Industrial Corporation of South Africa owns 10 per cent, and local individual shareholders own three per cent shareholding.
Muniaro also took a swipe at the recently-commissioned Husab Mine, which he said is also majority owned by foreigners.
The Hong Kong-based Taurus Minerals Limited owns 90 per cent of Husab Uranium Mine, while the remaining 10 per cent is owned by Epangelo Mining Company - the Namibian state-owned mining company.
This is unacceptable. We want the government to own 50 per cent shares in all mines in the country. We want Namibians to benefit from our natural resources, stressed the newly elected NUNW SG.
He noted that if the government cannot fight for 50 per cent shares in all mines, the union will take over the fight in shareholding of mines.
Muniaro also lashed out at foreigners whom he said have taken over institutions such as TransNamib, Air Namibia and the Roads Contractor Company (RCC), even the health profession among others, in the name of 'skills transfer' and turn-around strategies.
He said the country will not tolerate the skills transfer syndrome' where expatriates are hired to transfer skills to Namibians but fail to do so, instead they become managers in some strategic institutions in the country'.
He alleged that the government is hiring pensioners (expatriates over 60 years) to transfer skills to Namibians, but send local people on retirement at the age of 60.
The skills transfer programme has failed, no Namibian has benefited from it, he fumed.
Government has all along encouraged expatriates in Namibia to transfer skills to ensure the country has the local talent necessary to drive further economic growth, expansion and prosperity.
Muniaro was quick to say that foreigners are welcome in Namibia and welcome to live in the country, so long they come with good and genuine causes in helping develop the country and its people.