SWAKOPMUND - The acting tribal head of the Topaaar community, Chief Stoffel Anamab, must be summoned to explain why his community is mired in abject poverty despite the Topnaars raking in millions annually through three tourism concessions and a lucrative fishing quota.
This advice was given by the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, on Thursday to President Hage Geingob after the traditional councillor of the Topnaars, Rudolf Dausab, raised the issue of the sorry state in which the Topnaars are living. Anamab has been serving for decades as councillor. He served alongside the late Topnaar chief Seth Kooitjie, who died in January after serving as a chief since 1980.
Dausab, also a Topnaar, appealed to Geingob to look into the plight of his people as some currently find themselves without water as they cannot afford to pay their water bills from NamWater.
Overall, Dausab said, the Topnaar despite being a small community are struggling to make ends meet with no income or community development initiatives.
He added that unlike other communities the Topnaars can not claim customary land rights due to the fact that they are living in two parks.
“We are not even more than 2 500 people. They say we are the smallest community but the poorest. Our people are really suffering,” Dausab said during the town hall meeting with President that took place on Thursday.
However, Shifeta pointed out that the Topnaars have three tourism concessions of which one brings in not less than N$70 000 per month, as well as a fishing quota that rakes in a hefty sum of money.
“These altogether are worth millions. The problem is … the money coming from the concessions does not go to the community. I think it is better for the acting chief to come and tell us where that money goes,” Shifeta said. He added that the issue was also discussed before the passing of Topnaar chief Seth Kooitjie due to complaints from the community.
“Only one concession is enough to improve the living conditions of the community as they get clean dividends. The problem is that only certain people benefit from it,” Shifeta added.
Shifeta said that his ministry tried to reconcile the community after sitting down with them after Kooitjie’s funeral in an effort to create or invest in community uplifting projects.
“They can even buy a bus to transport their children to school or buy goats for each household. There are so many things that they can do as the money they are getting is a lot. So, let the acting chief come and tell the house where the money goes,” Shifeta briefed the president.
Governor of the Erongo Region Cleophas Mutjavikua said that the Topnaar Traditional Authority is the only one in the country that gets such a large monthly income. Apart from that, the governor said, they are entitled to 10 oryx and 20 springbok. “Yet they are the poorest people, but where is the money?” he said.