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Recon ready to oppose appeal of clearance certificate

2023-03-09  Edgar Brandt

Recon ready to oppose appeal of clearance certificate

A case in which the Economic and Social Justice Trust (ESJT) appealed a decision by the environment ministry to renew an environmental clearance certificate (ECC) for Canadian oil explorer Reconnaissance Energy Namibia (Pty) Ltd (ReconAfrica) has been postponed until 3 April 2023. 

According to the Trust, community forest and conservancy management committees and the Conservancy and Forest Association also appealed the ECC and are being represented by the Legal Assistance Centre.

ReconAfrica, which is drilling to establish commercial quantities of oil in Namibia’s northeast, received a notification from the Secretary of the Appeal Panel on 23 February 2023 that the appeal hearing was scheduled to be heard on 1 March 2023. 

“Reconnaissance Energy Namibia (Pty) Ltd and its representatives attended the hearing on 1 March 2023 and were ready to proceed. However, the Legal Assistance Centre, representing the Ncumcara Community Forest Management Committee and others, informed the minister that they were not ready to proceed with the hearing,” explained ReconAfrica spokesperson Ndapewoshali Shapwanale. 

“Reconnaissance Energy Namibia (Pty) Ltd will be present and ready to proceed on the 3rd April 2023 to oppose the appeals filed in respect of the decision to amend the Environmental Clearance Certificate issued on 15 June 2022,” Shapwanale added. 

Namibia’s Environmental Commissioner (EC) Timoteus Mufeti issued a renewed ECC to Canadian driller ReconAfrica on 15 June 2022. 

According to ESJT, the certificate was issued despite public concerns about the legality of the current drilling programme in Kavango East and West.

“Despite numerous requests to have this appeal heard, it was only nine months later on 24 February that a meeting was scheduled for these appeals. The timing of the appeal hearing coincides with ReconAfrica’s new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process. 

The application of the Economic and Social Justice Trust to stay with the EC’s decision, if successful, would mean ReconAfrica will have to stop operations, pending the outcome of the appeal hearing.

“This seems to be a possibility that the EIA assessor and Recon have considered since they are busy doing a new EIA process. Parties who are dissatisfied with the decision of the minister have the option of taking the matter to the high court. There are now two known investigations into the conduct of ReconAfrica in both Germany and Canada,” read a statement from ESJT spokesperson Rinaani Musutua. 

According to the statement, the Trust aims to enhance and promote the social and economic rights of Namibians, which includes the fair and equitable distribution of resources with a particular emphasis on enhancing the rights of economically and socially excluded Namibians. 

The Trust also stated it advocates for fundamental changes in the economic system to effect redistribution in favour of the poor.

2023-03-09  Edgar Brandt

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