Labour Resource and Research Institute (LaRRI) Namibia faces allegations of non-payment of salaries and a break down in donor relations resulting in members of their team feeling unsettled by the state of affairs.
An anonymous source revealed to this publication that some staff members are absent from work due to the fact that they have not been remunerated at all for the month of January (as at 13 February), while in December they received their salaries later than they expected. Again at the end of February, the same situation continued.
Disgruntled staff members revealed that they also have not received bonuses in the past four years and that their medical aid benefit has not been paid for some time.
“On several occasions, LaRRI workers have been embarrassed at private clinics when told that their medical insurance had been suspended,” a source recounts. When enquiring about the goings-on, staff are allegedly simply told that ‘there is no money’.
The Patriot contacted Cuana Angula, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees as well as Immaculate Mogotse, Deputy Chairperson.
Mogotse says that she has been on study leave for some time and is unaware of any issues at LaRRI. She lamented the fact that she had to learn of these types of allegations through the media, because of her prolonged absences from her duties are deputy chair.
Angula said in a written response that, “LaRRI is an autonomous non-profit organisation founded by the NUNW and it has been in existence for over 20 years. Since it is a non-profit organisation, all its activities are donor funded. LaRRI is governed by a board of trustees.”
Although Angula conceded that there were in fact late payments of salaries, he disputes that there have been any non-payments.
“All staff have been paid their salaries until January albeit delayed. Indeed, salaries for the month of December and January were delayed. It is a usual phenomenon in NGOs that salaries get delayed during the last month of the year and the first quarter of the ensuing year. Reason is all activities funded for are finalised in November to allow preparation of reporting to funding partners. As such personnel cost are sourced from other sources to cater for the last month and the ensuing first quarter of the new year.
So, there is nothing new or strange to the effect. So, as has been the case and continue to be, funding to the institution is only expended during the last month of the first quarter. For your information, it is highly likely, for salaries to be delayed for the month of February (sic).”
The Director is unaware of staff absenteeism or any lack they may be having, he writes.
“We are not aware that personnel stayed away from work due to shortage of transport funds as they were all paid until December last year and our offices only opened on 27 January 2020. In effect the office has only been open for 14 days.”
According to its website, LaRRI’s vision is ‘organising the unorganised.
Re-defining ‘the working classes in today’s context. Environmental justice. Mining, fishing, and farming; land-grab issues. Gender equality. Challenges confronting women workers and HIV-AIDS discrimination. Housing and urban rights. Access to housing and the right to the city. Youth and unemployment. Politics and opportunities for the youth. Foreign investment and neo-colonialism. Dispossession through trade agreements. Social protection and economic rights. Basic income grant and state spending.’
Sources close to the organisation believe that a change needs to be made at the top levels of the organisation. “They have alienated all our funders and have squandered the funding that we have received. At the moment, even the savings are all gone.”
The organisation appears to be running on empty and scrambling to keep its doors open.
The LaRRI website lists its ‘partners’ as Africa Groups of Sweden (AGS), Olof Palme International Centre and International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Soon after responding to the enquiry by this publication, the Chairman sent an email to his employees:
“Dear Dr Akuupa
I received a call from a journalist of the Patriot Newspaper earlier today. Where one of the staff members made an allegations (sic) on LARRI employment conditions and the appointment of the board members and the reporting system. I am hereby instructing to conduct an investigation about the allegations and take necessary action. We are going to subject all the staff members to lie detector test. Any refusing to submit him or herself to the test (must provide) a full explanation and why s/he (refuses) to participate”.
For fear of victimisation, staff members of the organisation chose not be named and spoke on the condition of anonymity.