The faction of the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) led by chief Mutjinde Katjiua has raised concerns over mining activities in their jurisdiction being executed with minimal benefits to the community.
The OTA has released a list of resolutions meant to deal with various concerns, including a lack of security of tenure on communal land rights holders, the failure by mining companies to improve the lives of communities, and failing to present a way forward on the challenges faced by the community.
The Chiefs’ Council met over the weekend at Toasis to consolidate and adopt the OTA’s constitution.
Their concerns come at a time that the parliamentary standing committee on natural resources is pushing for better benefits for communities which accommodate mining companies.
The committee recently gave Chinese-owned lithium miner Xingfeng a tough time due to its alleged failure to plough back into the community it operates in.
Landless People’s Movement leader Bernadus Swartbooi has also raised concerns over mining companies in the southern part of the country for their failure to improve the livelihoods of Namibians.
Katjiua’s faction met over the weekend at Aminuis to adopt their constitution.
“The Chiefs’ Council noted with concern the increasing exploration and mining activities in our communal areas with no defined benefits and participation of our communities, and with the real possibility of our communities being left to deal with the subsequent environmental degradation on their own,” Itamunua Meroro, the OTA’s chief of staff, said in a statement released after the council’s meeting.
The Chiefs’ Council adapted a resolution to mandate the chief’s office to gather the necessary data on exclusive prospecting licences (EPLs) in communal areas, to consult the affected communities, and to engage with the relevant authorities and companies and craft a way forward, he said.
“The Chiefs’ Council noted with deep concern the ongoing exploration and proposed uranium mining through the in-situ leaching process. The Chiefs’ Council is resolute in its position that Ovaherero people will not move from genocide to ecocide, and therefore resolved that the chief must urgently lead and direct the task force established to research and provide an informed perspective on our position on this issue,” Meroro said in apparent reference to uranium exploration at Stampriet in a sensitive farming area with groundwater facilities.
He also called on their chief to engage the relevant authorities to determine the approval processes followed in granting licences given to project promoters.
COMMUNAL LAND RIGHTS
Meroro raised concerns over “insecurity” of communal land rights and the subsequent marginalisation of the poor members of communities.
He said the office of the chief would establish a task force to campaign for the security of land rights and tenure of communal land residents.
Meroro said the Chiefs’ Council noted with concern the impending completion of the Hosea Kutako homestead memorial and museum at Toasis, and said they would write to president Hage Geingob expressing their gratitude for the government’s role in building a Namibian house in which no one is excluded.
The Chiefs’s Council meeting took place at the same time as Hoze Riruako’s inauguration as chief by his faction at Commando No 1 at Okahandja.