Sorry for trying to rake up the Namibian debate again, but for those interested, I have just got the 'latest' issues of the National Union of Namibian Workers' journal, Namibian Worker (Nov 95 & Jan 96) and thought I might excerpt some interesting bits. I think some of what is happening may be reflective of one trend in ruling party/trade union relations on the continent, so might be useful to people.
Interesting is that there is little discussion of Export Processing Zones in these issues. Meanwhile in the daily Namibian, for example, there have been stories such as 'EPZ off to a roaring start, benefits to spread nationwide'. Seems as if there is something of an uneasy truce at the moment. In the Jan edition of the worker, the editorial by Acting Gen-Sec, Ranga Haikali, states that "an agreement has been reached between the Government and NUNW on the EPZ, however further discussions are to take place to discuss the Constitutional Right of the worker to go on strikes." Elsewhere in the same issue he is quoted as saying "Government should stop [taking] universal decisions without consulting the other social partners. Workers will not accept ideas imposed by employers and government, such as the Export Processing Zone Act."
NUNW is still (Jan - anyone know later news?) in the process of negotiating an Accord with the ruling SWAPO Party. This is part of efforts to structure its communications with the Party and government, which have been very poor in the past and caused what NUNW President, Ponhele ya Frans, describes in the Nov 95 issue as "ugly misunderstanding and conflicts in thinking". "What we have experienced since independence", Ya Frans notes, "is that laws are drafted and passed by Parliament without any input of the people for whom such laws were made and targeted." It is hoped that the NUNW/SWAPO Party Accord will begin to address these issues, and bring some purpose to NUNW's affiliation to SWAPO.
NUNW is keen in the Accord discussions to get the Party to agree on terms of reference for the affiliation.
"We decided to be an independent and critical ally of the government, not a passive junior partner", Haikali told a December seminar on the Role of Trade Unions. He is reported in the Jan *Worker* as saying that the federation would use its industrial power in defining its position while being affiliated to SWAPO. But in doing so, the union would 'avoid any actions which would disrupt the economic growth and stability in the country.' Raikali also said that members of NUNW and affiliates had taken up postition in government as a way to raise workers' issues from within the structures & noted that critics viewed this strategy as weakening the unions.
On this, it has also been noted that those going into government from the NUNW have also been senior SWAPO Party members. I'm not too sure as yet whether the Accord will discuss the issue of the divided loyalty of these members & whether they should be representing the unions in a more structured way (or in any way at all).
Anyway, this is all fairly interesting to me in the context of reports of the SWAPO Youth League lately, and with the SWAPO Party Congress being due this year. (Still no word on plans for this, and as far as I know, the annual Consultative Conference is still 'indefinitely postponed' - anyone know any different?)
Hope this has been of interest.
Department of History
University of Western Australia
Nedlands WA 6009