Eveline de Klerk SWAKOPMUND - Traditional authority councillors and concerned residents in the Daures Constituency say government should make it mandatory that Exclusive Prospective Licences (EPLs) in communal areas benefit communities in which such mining activities take place. Also, companies that are setting up mines in communal and resettlement areas must at least buy farms to relocate local people or develop areas that have been affected by such explorations. These were some of the recommendations made during the consultative meeting that was hosted in the Erongo Region ahead of the second national land conference slated for this October. Ismael Nawaseb from the !Oe-#Gan Traditional Authority said there is currently no direct benefit for affected communities when such explorations are conducted in their areas, especially by those doing marble extractions near the Brandberg mountains. Instead, he says, such companies come in and mine until they are satisfied and leave without rehabilitating the areas and without directly benefiting local people. “We only see huge marble blocks being transported on big trucks. No development or contribution is made to the community. We do not even know who they are. Instead we are left with the aftermath of such activities that not only threaten our livelihoods but also causes a great deal of harm to our environment,” he said. Hence, he says that government during the upcoming land conference should seek a more applicable solution that would see direct beneficiation for local residents in such areas. “We are already facing challenges with water and such explorations should be able to assist communities in this regard instead of just exploiting our natural resources for their own benefits,” he said. Victoria Dausas, the senior councillor for Tsoaxudaman Traditional Authority in Otjimbingwe and one of the communal farmers on the farm Okongava where Desert Lithium Energy is currently mining, said exploration must not be allowed until local farmers were first consulted. She added that small-scale farmers occupying some camps on the farm are worried as the mining activities pose a threat for their livestock. According to Dausas, their camps have become smaller, while their infrastructure was also damaged. “We were not consulted that the mine would open again. We never gave our input seeing that mining is already taking place, government should make sure that the exploration companies buys at least two farms back for the farmers so that they can be relocated, instead of them co-existing on the farm with a mine,” she said. Dausas added that it is only fair that they return what they have taken from the community without consulting the direct affected parties. “These are some of the issues that we want government to take up and find solutions for during the upcoming land conference,” Dausas said.
New Era Reporter
2018-07-25 09:30:01 9 months ago