MPs bemoan lack of benefits at mines ministry

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MPs bemoan lack of benefits at mines ministry

Members of parliament showed their concerns with the lack of benefits that community members get from the mining sector. According to them, the community is benefiting minimally from the sector despite the country being blessed with natural resources. 

Contributing to discussions in the National Assembly last week on the budget motivation for the ministry of mines and energy, Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) president Mike Kavekotora said Namibia runs a risk of losing a golden opportunity if the mines ministry is not properly constructed and if corruption is allowed to continue unabated. 

“This ministry is seen by the public as one of the most corrupt and the discovery of light oil and rare earth minerals and much talked about green hydrogen project could just exacerbate the situation if drastic steps and actions are not taken,” he warned.

Kavekotora continued that much of the ministry’s potential is at risk if the leadership is not changed. Then, he cautioned, all opportunities would be in vain. 

Namibia is a world-class producer of rough diamonds, uranium, gold, zinc, acid-grade fluorspar, copper, lead, limestone, cement, salt, and dimension stone and is a prospective for lithium, graphite, cobalt and rare earths and other minerals that are now declared critical by many countries around the world.

Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Economics and Public Administration Natangwe Ithete, also showed his concern with the ministry, saying the committee has engaged ministerial stakeholders at several occasions on the benefit to the community from natural resources but no action has been taken. 

“I want to say it straight, the ministry is doing well in terms of electricity contribution but when it comes to mining, Namibia is poor but yet also rich. What is your ministry doing to make sure people benefit from mining without these unnecessary policies that are equally stopping people from benefiting from their God given resources? Minister, you are in charge of that ministry, until when are we going to be poor?” Ithete asked.

Parliamentarian Jerry Ekandjo added that it is time for African ministers responsible for mineral resources to sit and discuss how these resources benefit the respective people of their countries.

“Namibia is now 33 years old. Until when are we going to continue with the topic of poverty, and unemployment? Namibia is a small country with abundant resources but still we are poor. As policymakers, let’s challenge mining companies,” said Ekandjo.

Deputy minister of transport, Veikko Nekundi said the current modus operandi is not to the benefit of the people. He asked the mines minister not to defend the existing state of affairs.

Moreover, Popular Democratic Movement parliamentarian Celeste Becker acknowledged the mining industry’s contribution, but asked what the ministry is doing to ensure the industry creates jobs.



Responding to some of the questions, mines minister Tom Alweendo said the question of not benefiting from natural resources has been a recurring theme. He said he agrees that the ministry needs to do more in this respect, and more with how Namibia adds value to the local economy. 

“For us to do that, we need to change laws, and we are at the advanced stage of reviewing the Mining Act. Some of the amendments inserted include local ownership and beneficiation,” said the minister.

He also rubbished statements that his ministry is corrupt. 


Budget motivation

Meanwhile, deputy mines minister Kornelia Shilunga motivated the ministry budget of N$250 674 000 for the 2023/24 financial year, saying the discovery of light oil and the exploration for minerals in the country requires a competitive and comprehensive understanding to enable a rational and pragmatic national response.

“Our response must be underpinned by the sound regulatory environment, balancing various interests whilst at the same time ensuring maximisation of the value of our natural resource endowments for Namibians,” she said.

Shilunga added her ministry performed well in the last financial years, scoring 80%. According to her, this is an indicator that the ministry-maintained focus on its vision and managed to meet its short to medium and long-term objectives. 

The requested amount, she said, is to be distributed amongst programmes such as promotion on investment in exploration. This accounts for about N$23.3 million. The programme aims to regulate the mining industry, promote mineral resources potential and attract investors. 

“Through this programme, the ministry continues to embrace innovation to stimulate investment in the mining sector. The ministry is in the process of developing an online mineral rights application system to improve transparency and deepen public trust,” stated Shilunga.

Other programmes are the creation of knowledge of Namibia’s geological resources, energy supply and security, electrification, protection of Namibia’s diamond industry, petroleum supply and security and finally policy coordination and support services.