Wednesday 14 April 2021
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How dare they?

A letter authored by the resident Zimbabwean Embassy to the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation claiming that SME Bank expatriates “did not willfully disregard the country’s laws and they should be given enough time to pack their belongings” must be opposed with the contempt it deserves.
In a letter dated 30 March 2017, the Embassy appealed “that the expatriates be given more time to wrap up and leave the country. The mission also defended the record of the expatriates saying “they have not willfully disregarded the country’s laws”.
It further reads: “It is against this background that the Embassy is urgently appealing on humanitarian grounds that the expatriates be granted ample time to wrap up and leave the country.”
“Due processes need to be followed in the termination of their contracts and time requested will ensure a smooth transition. It should be underscored that the Zimbabwean expatriates have not willfully disregarded the country’s laws as they are serving at the SME Bank under the auspices of the Management Agreement,” concluded the letter.
This step is shocking from any angle one looks at it, firstly there is an ongoing court case yet the Embassy decided to tackle the matter. What ever happened to the sub judice rule?
The work permits of the expatriates expired on 31 March 2017 and their renewal applications were rejected for reasons only known to the Home Affairs and Immigration ministry, yet the Zimbabwean Embassy decides to pursue a different approach on this matter.
We have heard how the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration struggled to deal with some of these expats over the years who allegedly lived and worked in Namibia without a valid work permit with the help of some politicians who have vested interests.
I am pretty sure the immigration ministry had good reasons why it gave the expats whose permits had expired 48 hours to leave the country. In fact, the victims are well aware of the expiry date of their work permits, why did they have to wait until the last minute to act? Or did they think the intervention of the Zimbabwean Embassy will save them?
SME Bank has highlighted the rot in parastatals in Namibia. The endless looting and mismanagement is nothing new, or maybe it seems knew because it was well-hidden in the past. Many Namibians who work for SOEs have no sense of ownership of the resources that they need to manage. In the case of SME Bank, most of the top management hailed from Zimbabwe, a country which Namibia holds very dear especially due to the historic ties between the two nations. Those ties are now being threatened by a group of greedy individuals who chose to take the shortcut to wealth instead of serving the interests of the masses.
Zimbabwe is a country I hold dear in Africa and I feel Namibia can learn a lot from it, but taking each other for a ride should not be part of this relationship. Namibians working at SME Bank must also take the blame for failing to protect the resources of their nation, it is shocking that many were idle while the looting continued. I believe the SME Bank saga should not strain the ties between the two nations, in fact it should tighten it by ensuring that the people of both countries benefit equally from the relationship. As we wait for the court case to reveal the culprits who caused this mess, it is my hope that the SME Bank remains afloat so that it can serve the real purpose for which it was created.

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