Retrenched August 26 workers get lifeline

By Maria Kandjungu

GOVERNMENT has instructed newly formed August 26 Manufacturing (Pty) to absorb and re-employ 102 workers who lost their jobs earlier this year following the liquidation of August 26 Textile and Garment Factory as well as August 26 Industries also known as the ‘Shoe Factory’.

August 26 Manufacturing was formed in March this year after the decision by August 26 Holdings management to shut down and dissolve its textile and shoe factory wings, leaving 102 people without jobs.

Confidente at the time reported that the firms; especially the garment factory had been in a financial crisis and was struggling to sustain operations as there was no production following the dismissal of its financial manager, Paulus Moshana, for having misappropriated and being linked to the embezzlement of about N$25.7 million between 2011 and 2017 from the firm.

Speaking to Confidente this week, the new factory’s acting managing director Ndajoina Shalumbu stated that 51 of the retrenched workers have already been re-employed and the others would start work early next month.

“Yes, government instructed us to re-employ all the workers and we have entered into a contract where government has committed money through the Ministry of Defence to pay salaries of the employees. I am not at liberty to tell you how much government has given but I can tell you that the money is enough to cover salaries for a year, that is until August next year,” Shalumbu said.

According to him, the decision to dissolve the two firms was based on the fact that they had too many liabilities and were struggling to continue operations and the firms were not sustainable.

He added that management therefore saw a need for a complete restructure and in this case a new firm to start afresh was their best option.

“We set a new direction for the company. Previously we were struggling with profitability and sustainability and that is one of the issues that we have tried to address with the new strategies put in place for the manufacturing firm,” the acting MD added.

The new firm, he said, aims to consolidate the mandates of the textile and shoe factory while expanding other manufacturing activities.

“Our intention with the new August 26 firm is to meet government halfway and right now they are assisting us with re-employing the workers and paying their salaries, but our goal is to be financially sustainable and not depend on government for assistance. We want to guarantee jobs for our people and we have put strategies in place to ensure that. We will now for instance be producing all other goods such as pharmaceuticals, toiletries and all other manufacturing goods. So, we have broadened our mandate and customers.”

In addition, the new company has fewer board members and as a result it will be spending less on board fees.

Said Shalumbu: “We selected four non-executive board members and one executive board member who is also the acting executive director of the company as opposed to 12 board members,” he said.