Edward Mumbuu Jnr
The government will not succumb to growing pressure to stop it from auctioning the country’s fishing quotas to the highest bidder.
This position was reaffirmed by fisheries minister Albert Kawana in an interview with Nampa last week.
He said measures have been put in place to ensure the funds raised are used to fulfil the government’s objectives.
“That money will be used to be put in the mid-term review budget. That budget will be tabled in Parliament. That budget will be audited by the auditor general,” stated Kawana.
The minister said nothing is stopping the government from selling the quotas.
“Where is the court order to that effect that I must stop?” Kawana said before noting that the process is above-board.
“Am I going to steal? The money is not coming to my account. The money is not coming to the account of the ministry. The money is coming [going] into the account of the State. Where am I going to steal that money? People must use logic sometimes,” he said.
The People’s Litigation Centre (PLC) is one of the chief opponents of the government’s decision to auction the fishing quotas.
The centre said it will approach the courts to have amendments made to the Marine Resources Act in 2015 that gave the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources “unfettered powers” over the country’s marine resources declared unconstitutional.
According to PLC chairperson Mathias Haufiku, in a letter addressed to Kawana and copied to his finance equivalent, Ipumbu Shiimi, the bone of contention is that the ongoing auction relies mainly on amendments made to the said Act.
Haufiku argues the amendments were tailormade, particularly Section 3 of the Act, to empower the fisheries minister to enter into any agreement with any person or entity to advance any social-economic, cultural or other government objectives.
“There exists no checks and balances for any decision made by the minister,” Haufiku argues.
“We submit that the amendments were clearly engineered by Mr [Bernard] Esau and Mr [Sacky] Shanghala,” Haufiku tells Kawana.
The purported masterminds of the amendments in question, former fisheries minister Esau and former justice minister Shanghala, are currently in custody awaiting trial for allegedly acting in common purpose to obtain gratification of N$75.6 million under the guise that such funds were intended for government
On the 2015 amendments, Kawana had this to say: “A law remains valid unless [it] is pronounced unconstitutional or repealed or amended.”
This comes two weeks after the government announced it will auction off a 60% share of the country’s annual horse mackerel and hake output to raise funds for equipment and medicines to fight the coronavirus pandemic.