Kae MaÞunÿu-Tjiparuro WINDHOEK - The Onjati Pressure Group says it is premature for it to react and respond to pronouncements regarding the possible removal of the red line. Onjati, established by ordinary farmers from the communal areas of the regions of Otjozondjupa and Omaheke to push for a lasting solution to the recurrent problem of buffaloes in these communal areas, thus affecting the marketing of livestock, made this categorically clear during the first meeting of the government-led technical committee on buffaloes last Thursday. The committee which has been established as a result of the appeal by Onjati especially for the government to find a lasting solution to the buffaloes recurrence in the communal areas is comprised of various interests groups, including Onjati and is shared by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, deputised by state veterinarian, Dr Milton Masake. Onjati representative on the technical committee, Mike Nguvenjengua, impressed upon its Onjati’s reservations on the pronouncements of President Hage Geingob that the red line must be removed. The president said recently on an NBC programme that after 28 years of independence, the red line still divides Namibians. Since the issue has been widely debated. Characterising the pronouncements by the president as political, Nguvenjengua says until a decision on paper has been made either through a Cabinet decision, and the right procedures are followed, it may be preposterous to react to the president’s pronouncements. He says the red line has been in place since the 1960s due to the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease [FMD], which has not been addressed as yet, either through the international borders between Angola and Namibia and Namibia and Botswana which to him are “non-existent” because of the conditions in which the fences are, dilapidated. Further, Nguvenjengua claims that also the animals have not been vaccinated. The technical committee came up with its Terms of Reference [TORs] which are the renovation of all inland fences dividing the communal areas as well as secondly the fence of the international border between Namibia and Botswana to prevent especially the animals in Botswana which are roaming freely from straying into Namibia. It transpired at the first meeting of the technical committee that the upkeep of the fence was not only the responsibility of the Ministry of Safety and Security, which is also part of the technical committee but that of the Namibia Defence Force which is responsible for patrolling the Namibian-Botswana border. However, the NDF was not present at this meeting to shed more light on its patrolling duties. Understandably, it is busy with a big project in this regard but which the committee could not have more details about due to the absence of the NDF from the meeting. Other notable absentees from the meeting was Namibia Agricultural Union [NAU], the Commercial Farmers Union [CFU], the Emerging Commercial Farmers Union [ECFU], and the Meat Board of Namibia [MBN] that are expected at the next meeting of the technical committee next Thursday. As the red line seems not to have been properly maintained, one of the task of the technical committee is to visit the areas where the fences are to familiarise itself with their conditions. The committee also learned that about 1000 buffaloes currently populate the Waterberg Plateau Park, which normally has a carrying capacity for 400 buffaloes. Thus this number must be reduced and reportedly a market has already been found in Zambia to sell 200 of them for N$25,000 each. Another prospective market is the South African market where each buffalo could fetch from N$800,000, but due to some technical-political hiccups this has not as yet materialised. This include health reasons with the cleanliness of the buffaloes in terms of being disease free in question, whether for real or for political reasons. Nguvenjengua adds that the process of cleaning the affected areas of buffaloes is not an easy one that can be done in a short time but can take two to three years. One difficult aspect of the process is the vaccination of buffaloes and their tagging with a cost of N$30,000 each.
New Era Reporter
2018-07-24 09:51:26 9 months ago