RUNDU – Traditional authorities in the areas where ReconAfrica is exploring for oil have not been consulted, the All People’s Party (APP) claimed last week.
“We consulted the Shambyu and Ukwangali traditional leaders and they don’t have full information as to what is really happening and how they are going to benefit if the resources are discovered and the oil drilling has to continue,” said APP secretary general Vinsent Kanyetu.
His statement came just a day before Reconnaissance Energy Africa and the energy ministry announced it has found oil and gas indicators and shows over the first three wells of its drilling programme in Kavango.
This “provides clear evidence of a working conventional petroleum system in the Kavango Basin”, the company and the ministry said.
ReconAfrica, a subsidiary of Canadian-based Reconnaissance Energy, was issued with a Petroleum Exploration Licence (No 73) to undertake exploration activities in the north-eastern parts of Namibia.
Meanwhile, Kanyetu called on ReconAfrica owners or directors to engage the traditional leaders, who are the custodians of these areas.
“We don’t want to say that they must stop with the activities but what we are saying is that better packages must be negotiated and the affected people must also get benefits,” he stated.
Kanyetu urged traditional leaders to unite and speak with one voice in demanding better shares from the project.
He explained that having traditional authorities involved will allow them to influence government, who, in turn, can place locals in good positions for future exploration endeavours.
He further stated that reports that 80% of the employees at the project are locals are not true.
“I have it on good authority that there is a certain staff member at the site at the Kawe village who has been receiving money from people to get them jobs and people are coming from far, paying their way in and the poor people of Kavango are unable to find themselves in better positions – only as security guards and in other small jobs.”
Attempts to obtain comment from ReconAfrica proved futile. Kanyetu said the issue of bringing people from elsewhere to come work at the project must stop.
“It is about time that our people in the area enjoy what belongs to them. We cannot import people from far while statistics say Kavango has the poorest people.”
Kanyetu also noted that it is high time government ensures there is always adequate transfer of skills from foreign investors to the local community whenever projects of this nature take place.