KEETMANSHOOP - Oranjemund Constituency Councillor Lazarus Nangolo says government should amend the law to ensure communities within mining areas directly benefit from such mines.
Nangolo, who is attending the 2nd National Land Conference, made these suggestions when he spoke on Wednesday. Later he elaborated on the issues saying it is his view that a law must be passed so that mines directly benefit communities from which they operate from.
He said while he understood that natural resources must be shared nationally, those nearest to the mines must see the fruits of such mining activities, and he singled out his constituency as an example, stating that it is not right that while there are three mines, namely Namdeb, Rosh Pinah Zinc and Skorpion Zinc, there are still those within the area that can barely survive, as they languish in poverty and have nothing to eat day to day.
He further said currently there is no direct benefit to communities from mining activities taking place within their areas and this needs to change, noting that mining licences are given out by government, and recipients should be cognisant of the fact such mines fall under certain traditional authorities, town councils, constituencies or regions and therefore investors must ensure that a share of their profits directly benefit such communities or authorities, as well as the employees.
“This will mean that benefits from the mines are used to directly improve the lives of people within that area of their operations – if we get this we will be able to assist our poor people in poor communities. It does not make sense that people come to me on a daily basis saying they do not have mealie meal to eat while we have three mines in our constituency,” he said.
He thus called on delegates at the conference to ensure that the law is amended so that when an investor is given a licence it automatically gives shares to workers, and communities or authorities also benefit directly from the mining.
Nangolo also spoke on the communal land issue, saying it is painful to see how people from the south have no communal land, compared to those in the north, and he called for immediate rectification of this, saying people of the south should be able to live like their brothers and sisters in the northern part of the country.
He explained that those familiar with the south can testify that people in the south are squeezed into small towns or villages and have no place to call communal land, as they are surrounded by commercial farms, while people in the north can live in towns and go to their villages where they can farm or keep a small number of livestock.
“The people of the south need land and government needs to expropriate land especially along the main roads so that people here can live like people in the north, and not be confined to small towns only,” he said.
Nangolo called on resettled farmers to increase production so that Namibia can produce enough while he also urged government to assist in fast-tracking the proclamation of Rosh Pinah as a town.