Protestors: No more mining in Okombahe

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Protestors: No more mining  in Okombahe

OKOMBAHE – Residents of Okombahe want the issuance of exploration rights in their area to be put on hold as their chief Immanuel /Gaseb has been approving requests without consulting the community.

The disgruntled residents also accused /Gaseb of approving mining exploration rights of companies he allegedly has shares in and that of relatives without declaring his interest or briefing the community.

They now want their chief to be investigated and audited by government.

According to the community,
they are feeling the aftermath of such explorations as the companies do not rehabilitate the areas, nor are they held accountable for it.

“People have lost many livestock due to these unrehabilitated mines and are not even compensated, August /Awaseb said.

He said they do not have a problem with exploration rights being issued in their community, if benefits are coming to the whole community and not only to certain individuals.

The community also handed over a petition on Saturday in which they say that sites like the /Ganeb and !Khawab mountains with sacred values to the community are also now at risk as exploration at the sites is also in the pipeline.

“We also learned about mining at Ketelbank and Anisuwib sites within our jurisdictional areas of which we were never consulted. Efforts from the community to declare the /Ganeb mountain area a heritage site have been ignored by chief /Gaseb. The community application to establish a #Eseb wildlife conservancy in that area is also ignored,” said Yvonne !Nowases who read the petition on behalf of the residents on Saturday.

The chief’s son-in-law allegedly intends to explore on a piece of the /Ganeb land.

“This is deliberately done to advance his mining interest above the interest of the community. A huge area where mining was conducted without any benefit to the community has never been rehabilitated and we lost our livestock in those dungeons, especially during rainy seasons. Therefore, we are requesting the government to stop any mining activities envisaged in this area pending the community verification and approval,” the community appealed.

When contacted on the issue, chief /Gaseb told New Era that the petition is politically motivated and that he will grant approval to anyone that wants to explore in his jurisdiction.

“Does it mean that I should approve everyone but not my son-in-law? Is that also not discrimination while Namibia is a free country? I will even approve you if you want to explore in my jurisdiction,” /Gaseb said.

According to him, the latest petition is a ploy motivated by politics, as they do not want him to be elected as the new chairperson of the Council of Traditional Leaders.

/Gaseb, who is currently the acting chairperson, along with all other traditional chiefs are attending the 23rd annual meeting of the Council of Traditional Leaders that started this week in Eenhana in the Ohangwena region.