The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources is dismayed by the disparities in accommodation for Chinese nationals and Namibians who work at a lithium mine near Uis.

The committee is further concerned that there are no skills transfers happening because the Chinese nationals with qualifications, do not speak English. 

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources was informed by the management of the lithium mine, Longfire and Xingfeng Joint Venture, that critical skills are being transferred by the Chinese experts to Namibians. 

The Joint Venture, which is currently operating a lithium mine near Uis, under two mining claims, has employed 130 Namibians and 25 Chinese nationals. 

Management indicated that the transfer of skills is taking place despite language barriers because Chinese and Namibians communicate via translation software. 

The committee Chairperson was not convinced by such an arrangement. 

"No Namibians also, we must wake up. You are a business person alone here, I'm a leader, this is why everyone, the unemployed who have got the basic skills would come and complain to me. I must come and verify and say alright, there is an opportunity that you have opened, allow this one also to learn, but they can't learn when they don't want to communicate. There's something wrong here. This is not politics, it's just reality, we are not willing to create opportunities for other Namibians and they will continue to be spectators and we will keep justifying by saying, let the foreigners just do it for us. No colleagues. Namibians are on their own, you are supposed to protect their interest, to get skills, you don't do it as a ministry. What are you here for? Salary collectors?" 

The managers indicated that two Namibians are working as lab assistants and they are learning from a Chinese lab technician. 

The Parliamentarians further toured the sleeping quarters of the workers and discovered that the Chinese nationals and some few Namibians are accommodated in containers, that are air-conditioned and the rooms are shared by two people.

However, the majority of Namibians are accommodated in another area, where four people share rooms, without air-conditioning and sleep on bunk beds. 

There is no privacy in their ablution facilities. 

"The Chinese places, well taken care of, fitted with well-ventilated systems inside out. Namibians this is the degenerated situation that they must work in and the supervisors are Namibians, they are Namibians who don't live in the same circumstances but the workers that produce the wealth are mistreated, the elite Namibians with the Chinese get the best of it, this is how Namibians sell out other Namibians. This is the problem of our modern Namibia, black oppression, joined by foreigners who live decent lives in this country. Very sad story. But it's very good that we came and saw it. We will have to deal with this matter as well," said Parliamentary Standing Committee Member, Bernadus Swartbooi.



Renate Rengura