By Simon Liseli and Martha Matongo
A school principal with 26 -years teaching experience is demanding N$500 000 from the Ministry of Education for working as a headmaster at two schools in Western Caprivi for nearly five years.
Mr. Alex Sombelo Mibonda (51) was principal at Ndoro and Masambo primary schools between 2004 and 2008 claims that the Ministry of Education economically exploited him by not paying him for administrative tasks of Masambo Primary Schools that is found 200 Kilometres west of Caprivi region for the previously marginalized community the san speaking people.
The aggrieved Mr. Mibonda claims he has tried several times in finding ways on how the regional office of the Education in Caprivi can compensate him to no avail.
“I was verbally commissioned by the Director Mr. Lovemore Lupalezwi and the former Circuit Inspector now retired Mr. Albius Maloboka as if it was a cattle post and I obliged in favour of respect for my superiors but my powers were totally abused. So I want the Ministry to compensate me. I can’t do Government work for free,” Mr. Mibonda said.
In his re-appointment letter of teaching staff members at Masambo Primary School and Ndoro Memorial Primary School dated 8 January 2007 from the former inspector Mr. Albius Maloboka says,“This serves to inform you in writing that your temporary teachers did not re-apply for 2007, as a result their re-appointment might be delayed causing learners to stay for a long time without teachers, which is not a good situation given the fact that these same teachers are always re-appointed yearly.Therefore you are urgently requested to submit their applications for employment as soon as possible preferably on or before Friday January 12, 2007 anytime” it says.
After his commissioning Mr.Mibonda claims he approached the then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education who said Masambo was just a satellite School.
He further said that he made some enquiries with the regional Director Mr. Lupalezwi but could not manage to solve the issue and has gone to the extent of forwarding his grievances to the office of the current permanent secretary Mr. Alfred Ilukena who seemingly failed to address the matter only advising him to forward his grievances to the office of the Chief Regional Officer (CRO) Ms. Reginah Ndopu, which he did but has not yet received any feedback.
When all efforts to have the Education Ministry own up proved futile, Mr Mibonda was forced to approach the Ministry of Labour for mediation where he alleges that the Director was even angry and challenged him saying he can beat him during mediation. He was only allegedly offered a N$2 400 taxable transport allowance by the Education Ministry, which stand at N$1 584 after deductions.
“Both the Labour and Education Ministry did not do it according to the law, because there were no signed documents. I even challenged the PS to come up with the documents that I could sign but he failed to do so. I consider that payment as bribery and that was a tea break. Now I’m waiting for my lunch and supper, the Director, PS and the inspector they do not want to listen to me because of my background of being a Totela,” explained Mibonda.
In January this year, he approached the office of the Regional Governor with the same grievances and was advised to put them on paper, which he did but that did not also bare any fruit.
As a last resort, the Regional Governor, Hon. Alfea Lawrence Sampofu, advised Mibonda to approach the office of the Ombudsman since the Education Director of the region did not want to entertain himself in the issue.
Mr. Mibonda before his approach to the governor’s office the matter was already with the office of the Ombudsman and two people were delegated to come and investigate the matter but failed to dig it out as they seemingly to be in favor of the Director and last year October himself took the same grievances back to the Ombudsman Adv. John Walters where he is hoping that the matter will be now resolved and find a solution.
However, the principal claims that an investigation into the matter prior to his approach to the governor’s office for assistance found that his demands were legitimate and that the amount he is claiming should be paid to him as the appointment was approved by the PS but though they based it on a satellite School.
“My rights were violated, because I didn’t know about them. I used my own resources, now they should compensate me with N$500 000 and if I was not appointed where did they get that money to pay me” he added.
The principal further saying Masambo Primary School took five years without a pay-point and the other three years without the school code after its establishment and the distance between the two schools is 12 kilometers.
“I want the Ministry to compensate me for damages and I will keep on talking until I am settled,” he stressed.
When contacted for comment on the matter Mr. Romeo Muyunda the Media Officer in the office of the Permanent Secretary said it is very difficult to find out about the matter as he is not sure whether Mr. Mibonda signed any contract to do such work and adviced the reporter to call the office of the regional Director.
Admitting that Mr Mibonda approached their office with such a claim, acting Education Director Mr. Joseph Kawana said the issue will be sorted out by the Ministry as Mr. Mibonda has already forwarded his grievances to the office of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Caprivi Regional Council, Ms. Ndopu.
“There is nothing we can do on that issue as the Directorate and these are internal matter not for the media I don’t know why he brought it to you, he decided himself to forward his grievances to the office of the CRO and that is where it is as we are talking now, us we have nothing to say” said Mr. Kawana.
At the time of going to press, Caprivi Regional Director Mr. Lovemore Lupalezwi who was out on sick leave said he still need time to look deep into Mr. Mibonda’s problem and should be called back again.
“Mibonda is a very vocal Man, I don’t think he could have kept quite for those years”, Mr. Lupalezwi said.
He further added, “ Please give me time to check with the Acting Director who was in office to hear how far the issue is”, he stressed.
Contacted to hear how far the issue was, Caprivi Regional Council Chief Executive Officer Ms. Regina Ndopu- Lubinda said is still in need to know the background of the matter as her Colleagues are already attending to it.
“It is a long issue which needs proper investigations, I told him to be patient and we will give him feedback on the first week of October”, said Ms.Ndopu-Lubinda.
She added that “ I told my Colleagues to go and check what transpired before, so that we can get a solution to the problem”.
Meanwhile ,Namibian Ombudsman, Advocate John Walters who is personally handling Mr. Mibonda’s complaint confirmed to this paper that he had written a letter to him to answer the questions in detail that will bring proper solutions of his case.
“ I need all the information I can get from both sides, I want to know what was agreed upon the Finance Department before” Adv.Walters said.
He further stressed that “ He should answer all the questions I sent to him in detail so that his problem can be addressed”.