Daures chaos blamed on lax monitoring…as MP calls out Alweendo’s ‘suspicious’ U-turn

Home National Daures chaos blamed on lax monitoring…as MP calls out Alweendo’s ‘suspicious’ U-turn
Daures chaos blamed on lax monitoring…as MP calls out Alweendo’s ‘suspicious’ U-turn

OKOMBAHE – The lack of monitoring of mining activities and mines in the Daures constituency has resulted in the mushrooming of illegal activities at the expense of the local community.

This is according to the Daures constituency councillor, Kennedy !Haoseb, who yesterday said his office does not know exactly how many mines are operating in his constituency, as they are not privy to such information. His office is also not informed by the mines ministry of any activities.

!Haoseb was responding to questions posed by parliamentarian Tjekero Tweya yesterday during a public hearing in Uis between the Daures constituency office and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources. 

The public hearing followed a motion, tabled on 6 April by Landless Peoples Movement’s parliamentarian Henny Seibeb, who called for government to impose a moratorium on lithium mining to determine the real value of the rare earth metal as well as the legality of mining operations in the constituency.

As a result, the committee, consisting of parliamentarians Kletus Karondo, Maria Elago, Bernadus Swartbooi and Maria Kamutali, conducted the hearings.

The community alleges Xinfeng Investments is carrying out illegal lithium mining in Uis and that their request to stop these activities has fallen on deaf ears.

During the meeting, !Haoseb revealed his concerns to the committee over illegal mining and the lack of visibility from the mining ministry in the area.

“I have never seen anyone from the mining ministry coming to the Daures constituency. They are not visible here, despite numerous calls by our office. We don’t even know how many mines operate in our constituency,” !Haoseb said during the hearing.

According to him, the mushrooming of illegal mining is a direct result of illegal activities in his constituency and could have been avoided if proper monitoring mechanisms were implemented.

Also responding to questions from the committee, the chief administration officer of the Daures constituency, Mauritius ǂGoseb, echoed the same sentiment, saying the issue is aggravated by the fact that their office is not consulted.

“As leadership, we tried to address the concerns of the community by engaging the relevant stakeholders but were told that the ministry is looking into the issue. Also, as my councillor alluded earlier, we are not notified of any mining activity in our area,” he said.

During the meeting, Tweya also explained the parliamentary committee is on a fact-finding mission and will objectively look at the issue.

“We were sent by the parliament to investigate the alleged illegal mining activities in the constituency, as the current state of mining activities is perhaps in chaos and needs to be sorted out. We need to verify these and report back to parliament,” he said.

The committee said they will compile a report that will be tabled in parliament after the engagements that will end on Wednesday.


Seibeb calls out Alweendo  

Mines and Energy Minister Tom Alweendo on Sunday cancelled Xinfeng Investments’ mining licence. According to a letter by the minister, Xinfeng Investments should return all documents for the relevant mining licence by 31 May 2023 to mining commissioner Isabella Chirchir. 

Meanwhile, Seibeb called for Alweendo to be subpoenaed and appear before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources. 

According to Seibeb, the sudden turnaround by Alweendo on Sunday to revoke Xinfeng’s lithium mining licence is “contradictory and highly suspicious.” 

“We find it very contradictory. In fact, we find it highly suspicious that the minister is writing such a letter to Xinfeng and then revoking their licence in Omaruru. He already proclaimed himself and said he found no wrongdoing as far as that matter is concerned. So, it is very suspicious. The letter of the minister seems to undermine the committee and the public hearing,” a concerned Seibeb said yesterday.

Seibeb also accused Alweendo of undermining and sabotaging the work of the parliamentary committee.

“He is undermining the committee but we will maintain and say that not all is well in the lithium mining industry. We want a thorough investigation so that we know what is happening, as it will be in the interest of all Namibians,” he said.

Seibeb questioned why Alweendo suddenly revoked the contentious mining licence for apparently including misleading, untrue and incorrect information to the ministry in February this year. 

This weekend’s decision came barely a few weeks after Alweendo gave Xinfeng’s operations the all-clear.

 According to Seibeb, it is “odd” the minister revoked the licence just as the public hearing on illegal mining was about to commence.

Meanwhile, Uis community activist Jimmy Araseb said the community wants the minister to hold people working directly with the processing of these documents accountable.

“It seems that the minister is silent on the main issue that we are hammering on. That is currently our concern, as he during our feedback session said that there were some errors in documents of Long Fire Investment that is operating with Xinfeng,” said Areseb.

According to Araseb, Long Fire is allegedly just being used by Xinfeng; hence, he feels the minister should address the entire Xinfeng issue and illegal operations.

“Not only is it the illegal activities that we worry about but what about our resources that have been illegally shipped out of the country,” Araseb asked.

Despite numerous efforts, Xinfeng’s spokesperson Aqisha Jooste could not be reached for comment yesterday. 

In addition, the mines and energy minister yesterday indicated he will address this matter during a press conference in Windhoek today.