WINDHOEK - Cabinet has approved Namibia Oriental Tobacco’s right of leasehold application for a tobacco and maize plantation in the Zambezi Region.
Information and Communication Technology Minister Stanley Simataa announced at a media briefing yesterday that the approval was done through the Cabinet Committee on Trade and Economic Development (CCTED). Namibia Oriental Tobacco cc, a company co-owned by Swapo regional coordinator for Oshikoto, Armas Amukwiyu, had its initial application for the N$14 billion investment rejected in May 2015 by the Zambezi Communal Land Board.
The same land board later recommended to government that the project, co-owned by Chinese investors, should get the green light.
The company already received 10 000 hectares of land at Liselo, an irrigation area on the outskirts of Katima Mulilo.
Some farmers and other concerned locals in the area in 2015, according to media reports, raised concerns about the proposed plans to create a tobacco plantation in the area.
However, not everyone in the region was against the project. Mafwe Youth Forum who supported the project in 2015 called on the management of the planned Liselo tobacco project to pay a certain percentage of its profits to the Mafwe Traditional Authority once approved by government.
Similarly, at the time Zambezi Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu said: “The community in Zambezi Region want the project. They are not against it. It’s only one man who objected to the project, but when the Land Board called people in, he never turned up to present his objection.”
He noted that the project is not only meant to plant tobacco, but will also see other crops cultivated. “Tobacco is grown from December to March. After that they are going to produce other crops such as maize and vegetables.”
In April 2015, former Chinese ambassador to Namibia Xin Shunkang said tobacco produced at the mooted plantation in Zambezi Region is not meant for local consumption, but rather for the Chinese market. Then health minister Dr Bernard Haufiku at the time publicly opposed the project and called on all health-conscious Namibians to fight it tooth and nail.
Amukwiyu responded then saying: “Our constitution allows everybody to express their opinions and the minister is no different. He is part of government. The project will be established through government structures, of which he is part.” The project obtained environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in 2014.
2019-06-14 09:07:28 4 days ago