Fisheries minister Albert Kawana has warned government will deal harshly with new entrants in the fishing sector who use names of vulnerable citizens and charity organisations to gain access to fishing rights without such entities benefiting.
Kawana, who sounded the warning while publicly announcing the outcome of the 2018 fishing rights application process, also waxed lyrical about his ministry’s efforts to transform the sector, which has been plagued by a corruption scandal implicating former Cabinet ministers Bernhard Esau and Sacky Shanghala as well as business people.
“We will leave no stone unturned and will make sure that a strict mechanism will be put in place to monitor the process in order to ensure that such charities, especially those which involve children, people with disability and marginalised communities, benefit from the resources of our country,” Kawana warned. He said those days when the weak members of the society were used to their disadvantage are long gone. Of the 5 176 applications submitted, 862 applicants were disqualified, while 85 existing players in the industry had their rights renewed. A total of 213 new applicants were successful, translating to 298 successful applicants.
Khomas region tops the list of beneficiaries with 11% followed by Erongo with 9.9%, Omusati (5.9%), Otjozondjupa (5.8%), Oshikoto (5.5%), Ohangwena (5.1%), Hardap (4.4%), //Kharas (4.4%), Kunene (3.6%), Oshana (3.2%), Omaheke (1.4%), Zambezi (1.3%), Kavango East (0.6%) and Kavango West with 0.4%.
Making the announcement, Kawana said he was pained due to the fact that some applicants, including those who met the set criteria, did not make it, saying that it was never his intention to deny fellow Namibians bread on their table. “The limitation of resources was a major constraint. The size of the cake is far too small compared to the number of applications,” he said.
Additionally, Kawana said, his ministry is determined to consult extensively in all corners of the country in order for government to come up with a comprehensive review of the fisheries sector, with a view to benefit ordinary Namibians. “All communities must feel that they are part and parcel of the Namibian house.
Although it is impossible to accommodate every applicant, I believe that there is room for more Namibians to indirectly benefit from this national resource by ensuring that fishing companies locally source all their goods and services which are available in Namibia,” said Kawana.
“As we strive to achieve Namibianisation of the fisheries sector, I appeal for national unity so that we are not derailed from our path. Given what has been achieved so far, I believe that we can achieve our goal in the shortest possible time. Kawana, who took over from Esau in November 2019 and was reaffirmed in that position by President Hage Geingob last year, also said women, war veterans, marginalised and the youth were now enjoying a stake in the fishing sector.
“Our women, veterans, marginalised communities, citizens with disability, workers, peasants, traditional authorities, students and our religious organisations all have a stake in the sector,” Kawana said.
He said the next exercise is to ensure that there is equitable distribution of resources among the Namibian people so that the marine resources are not dominated by few individuals. This, he said, will require extensive stakeholder consultations so that whatever changes, are made, must involve input from the Namibian nation.
“There will be extensive regional consultation. Time has come to take the war against poverty to a new frontier. Those who are most affected by poverty should have a bigger voice in this war,” he said. Kawana also used the opportunity to apologise to the nation for the delay in the processing and finalisation of the fishing rights applications.
“The delay was caused by factors beyond my control,” Kawana said, adding that the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Presidential, National Assembly elections and the December and January holidays also contributed to the delay in dealing with the applications.