PRESIDENT Hage Geingob, by implementing the Covid-19 regulations that would prevent employers from retrenching workers during the lockdown, acted in the interest of employees.
The President, in an affidavit before the High Court, stated that should employees be retrenched during the lockdown of the State of Emergency because of the Covid-19 pandemic, they would not have been able to protect their interests because of limited access to the labour related processes.
The answering affidavit, on behalf of President Geingob, as well as the Minister of Labour, the Attorney General, the Minister of Health and Social Services, the Labor Commissioner and the Namibian Government also argued that the President had to protect the nation against a new deadly disease in circumstances where almost nothing was known about it.
The respondents in the matter are arguing that the President realised that there was no certainty of how long the lockdown would last and that the situation could negatively affect businesses, with retrenchments inevitable as a result thereof.
“There was therefore a need for those rights to be protected. Widespread dismissals could lead to starvation or public disorder. In order to strike some balance, Government made some funds and incentives available. The President walked a tight rope and had to strike a balance with regards to everyone’s interests. He did what he could with the hand he was dealt. It is evident that the President only interfered to the extent that employers intended to interfere with employee benefits as a result of the Covid-19 impact,” the respondents maintained in their arguments.
Geingob’s intentions, according to Government, was to, as far as possible, retain the status quo pending the eventual termination of the lockdown.
The Namibia Employers Federation (NEF), along with other applicants, in an urgent application before the High Court is seeking to have the regulations under the State of Emergency set aside.
The applicants are arguing that the regulations give no distinction between rich and poor employers, adding that some employers’ dignity is at stake as a result of looming bankruptcy.
High Court Judge Shafimana Ueitele is presiding over the matter.