Ohangwena counsellors demonstrate

21 Oct 2013 19:00pm
EENHANA, 21 OCT (NAMPA) – Acting Director of Health and Social Services for the Ohangwena Region, John Hango on Monday refused to accept a petition from demonstrating community counsellors as he said their protest was illegal.
The community counsellors demonstrated in front of the ministry’s regional head office at Eenhana on Monday, demanding better salaries and improved working conditions, and saying they want to be put on the government payroll.
“What you are doing is illegal, and I will not be pulled onto the wrong side of the law by accepting your petition,” Hango charged when the demonstrators attempted to hand their petition to him.
He said they violated procedure by not notifying his office about their demonstration seven days in advance as is the requirement.
Hango noted that demonstrators only served him with a notification letter on Friday.
“I advised your leader, David Nambinga, for you just to come for a meeting instead of the demonstration, but he opted to ignore my advice for reasons only known to him,” he told the demonstrating counsellors.
Speaking to Nampa, members of the group said their salaries are funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Ministry of Health and Social Services, adding that they did not receive salary increments over the past three years.
Nambinga said these are the counsellors who are entrusted with administering health-related counselling, especially on HIV/AIDS treatment, at health facilities across the Ohangwena Region.
According to him, the Ministry continues to employ community counsellors on a one-year contract basis, which has been extended every year since 2005.
“The ministry promised to integrate us into its payroll system by September this year, but we were caught by surprise when they this month came up with another extension of our contract of services to 2014,” the demonstrating counsellors explained.
Although the regional health authority has refused to accept their petition, Nambinga said their demand for better conditions of service and improved salaries will continue until the authority provides them with a positive answer.
“We will be forced to engage in a strike if they continue mistreating us like this or are not willing to consider our demands,” the counsellors threatened, pointing out that their monthly income has been N.dollars 2 000 for the past three years.
They also handed in a copy of their petition at the office of Ohangwena Regional Governor Usko Nghaamwa in his absence on Monday morning before Hango’s refusal.
Director of Planning and Development Services for the Ohangwena Regional Council, Phillip Shilongo, received the petition on behalf of Nghaamwa.