WORKS officials have added their voices to the issue of Zimbabwean expatriates, calling on the ministry not to renew their contracts.
The protest comes after works minister Alpheus !Naruseb exempted 29 Zimbabweans from certain professional registration procedures.
In 2012 Namibia and Zimbabwe signed an agreement through which Zimbabwean architects and quantity surveyors would work for the Namibian government and transfer skills to Namibian understudies.
Since the exemption of the Zimbabweans has come to light, some Namibian architects and quantity surveyors have spoken out against !Naruseb’s decision.
In a letter dated 25 July, addressed to Namibia’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Balbina Daes Pienaar, and the immigration ministry’s permanent secretary, Patrick Nandago, the works officials said prevailing economic conditions do not allow for extending the Zimbabweans’ contracts.
“Having seen the economic conditions, and where the country is heading, the contracts of the Zimbabweans referred to in this submission did not add value to any envisaged achievement during their contractual time, and had expired,” they stated.
The officials state that government spends N$37 million on salaries annually for 10 Zimbabwean expatriate senior experts.
According to the letter, 78 indivdiuals below the senior expert group cost government N$9 million in salaries, including housing allowances.
Collectively, the expatriates cost government about N$10 million on transport annually.
The works officials argued that there was no need for expatriates since the capital projects have been scaled back, and some had been handed to regional councils for inspection and coordination.
Furthermore, the letter said the expatriates did not have traceable work experience in Zimbabwe nor were they registered with professional bodies in that country.
“Some of the experienced professionals reached their retirement age about 10 years ago, which means we are to lengthen the foreigners’ retirement age at the expense of the Namibian taxpayer,” the letter stressed. !Naruseb could not be reached for comment, while works permanent secretary Willem Goeiemann said he was not aware of the letter.
The Namibian ambassador to Zimbabwe could also not be reached for comment as her mobile phone was not reachable yesterday.
The Namibian recently reported that Goeiemann said the ministry was unsure about the credentials of the Zimbabweans and was investigating whether they were registered in their country.
Meanwhile, a group of Namibian professionals are expected to submit more than 300 CVs to the works ministry in response to Goeiemann’s statement that Namibia does not have enough qualified architects, quantity surveyors and engineers, hence the need for the Zimbabwean experts.