Botswana far ahead of Namibia in deal negotiations -Venaani

Martin Endjala

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) President McHenry Venaani, says Namibia is underserving itself as a country in terms of sharing resources with outside investors, leaving many Namibians deprived and left out from benefiting from their country’s resources.

“Africa is not poor, but Africans are poor and we need to do better when we negotiate our minerals with foreign investors. We cannot be bowing down to their demands, and our negotiation models need to be seriously looked at to benefit us more. Our neighbour, Botswana, is far ahead of us in that regard”, Venaani said in response to the Ministry of Mines and Energy Ministerial statement by Tom Alweendo in Parliament earlier this week.

Venaani said that resources such as oil are very essential to the economy of the country, while calling on better negotiations to benefit Namibians.

“We have witnessed a lot of mining developments in the country, particularly in our communities, but I have never seen these communities being paid or benefiting from these developments”, he said

He has since made the call for policies to regulate investors to invest in the communities living around the areas of developmentand not just take the resources of the country outside without benefiting its own people first.

Meanwhile, Landless People’s Movement (LPM)Leader Bernadus Swartbooi, cautioned the government that state-capitalists where government entities are the only ones mining will be closing doors on owned mining entities, which he said could be pivotal to the country’s economic growth.

Swartbooi stressed that communities should be the first to benefit from the resources, and alleged that the secrecy by the government discovering new resources (such as Lithium by Namdeb) and sitting on it and out of the public domain ought to come to an end.

The LPM leader went as far as reprimanding government ministries and entities undermining each other, saying that this does not help to try to have a go at each other, thus calling for collective efforts for the benefit of the country.

He reiterated that all resources belong to Namibians and must be made known publicly, adding that instead of postponing such discoveries for future use, the government needs to immediately embark on developing such resources to create more jobs for the country, given the high rate of unemployment.

In response, Alweendo said that the current negotiation models indeed need to be relooked and made better, but also reaffirmed that Namibia and Debmarine do share a 50/50 shareholding in Namdeb

He Further highlighted that the Mines and Energy Act is currently under review and is aimed at addressing all issues pertaining to the mining industry. He added that a draft local content policy is also on the cards, with workshops soon to commence with various stakeholders’ inputs.

Regarding the local policy in terms of benefiting from mining development in their community, Alweendo informed parliament that they want it enacted as a law.

Moreover, Alweendo said that when it comes to the mining sector and with regards to the critical raw materials, these are minerals that are highly sought after globally.

“For that reason alone, we cannot mine these minerals where they are exported in their basic raw form or where minimal value has been added. We must insist that critical raw materials are not exported without value being added locally” he said.

He added that they need to insist that processed minerals are used as inputs into locally manufactured goods, such as batteries, allowing us to export manufactured goods.

With regards to the petroleum sector, the Minister said that the recent discovery of oil and gas has been proven to be of commercial quantity. In addition to the revenue that will accrue to the State through various taxes such as income tax and royalties, the local economy stands to gain more from local content.

Local content is the value that the extraction of oil brings to the local economy beyond resource revenues. This value will be obtained from the provision of ancillary services to the oil sector.

Among these is the provision of services such as engineering, logistics, accommodation, and catering. Some of the services can readily be provided by local businesses, while others might take a while before our local businesses are able to provide such services.

Alweendo said that they will continue to use their best endeavors to ensure that the county’s minerals and petroleum resources are exploited in the best interest of the country and its people. “It is our resolve to be good stewards of our resources, and in this role, we will continue to value your informed contribution how to do better,” he said.

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