Rev. Jan A. Scholtz
As a child born and raised in Lüderitz, I attended St. Pieters Church school in the old location now called Benguela. I can remember, since time immemorial, that the Lüderitz peri-urban areas had been out of bound for people on the grass-roots level, the Sperrgebiet. I remember our teachers telling us that they grew old without knowing the surroundings of the town that they grew so fond of.
The people’s aspirations sky-rocketed when it was officially announced in the media, in 2000, that the Sperrgebiet is being opened. The start of deliberations, workshops, seminars and information sharing started in regard to what was then called the ‘Land-use Plan’. The disadvantaged people’s perception was that this development would bring them into the mainstream of tourism. The official launch of the Sperrgebiet National Park, later proclaimed the Tsau //Khaeb National Park, occurred at Kolmanskop under the then Honorable Minister of Environment, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, in 2008. The people then realized the snail’s pace at which the plan was developed.
The people had high hopes and aspirations that ‘at last’ they would be able to enter and benefit from the lucrative tourism industry that would change their livelihood and quality of living standards.
Ten years down the line in 2018, It remains open to a secluded few operators from the previously advantaged under a so-called ‘Namdeb Special Agreement Arrangement”, whilst all gates are closed to prospective and emerging operators.
I recall the energy of the late !Aman Chief Dawid Fredericks, at these meetings and information sharing meetings, calling for acceleration of the opening of the park. He did his best and now deserves his rest, whilst the nation live in anticipation not knowing how and when.
My question is, how then was the park declared in the absence of the required regulatory framework and why do we still explain this delay 18 years down the line?
Namparks 4 came and we saw a dim light down the tunnel, at least some light I will say. But this is simply not enough. With the sale of Elizabeth Bay mine on the table and the ripple effect of the Global Economic Downturn on local markets and quality of life prospects, do I find no single justification why the process has to be delayed and be further frustrated. Let mining companies focus on their core business of mining as fishing companies do fishing only. Let there be sound cohabitation between diamond mining and tourism, as there is between diamond mining and fishing.
For too long has a vast area of 28 000 square km been inaccessible whilst only 5% of same has been effectively and actively subjected to mining. Instead only the area being mined at any given time with a fair and reasonable ‘Security Zone’ should be regarded as a restricted area.
Now that it’s 10 years down the line, let the park be opened, let rights be granted to the previously disadvantaged, let special arrangement agreements be terminated, let tourism in the constituencies develop, let the playing field be levelled and business develop, let quality of life be enhanced, let jobs be created, let us experience fair wealth distribution. All of this in line with the Harambee Prosperity Plan, NDP 5 and Vision 2030.
Our appreciation to the former and current ministers of environment and tourism, for their tireless effort to have the process finalized. We wish this process is expedited.
* Reverend Jan A. Scholtz possesses a Diploma in Theology and B. Theology from South Africa. This is written in his personal capacity.
New Era Reporter
2018-10-31 09:20:10 6 months ago