Removal of cattle from Bwabwata must be put on hold – Karondo

Martin Endjala

Parliamentary Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Chairperson, Kletus Karondo, has recommended that the removal of cattle from Bwabwata National Park should be put on hold until engagements are concluded.

Karondo stated this in a recent report submitted to the National Assembly for consideration, conducted from March 2022 to 2023 September.

“It is evident that the issue surrounding the management of the Bwabwata National Park is long overdue. MEFT must create a platform to engage the Hambukushu Traditional Authority and find an amicable solution to the issues of the management of Bwabwata National Park,” he said.

He said this came after the Hambukushu Traditional Authority lodged a Petition on 19 November 2021, titled “Petition on the Management of the Bwabwata Communal Land by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism.

The Petition among others is calling upon the National Assembly to revisit the Cabinet Decision of 1999 which stipulates that no cattle is allowed in the Bwabwata National Park or any other Game Park in the North-East Region. Stating that Cabinet decision was passed without knowledge and proper consultation.

The petition demands that the promised tourism development in the Mahango Core Area that will benefit the Hambukushu community be implemented.

The other demand is for government to consider allocating farming units within the Bwabwata area to the Hambukushu Traditional Authority.

It further claims that the proclamation of Bwabwata into a National Park in 2007 is illegal and must be revisited and that the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism should consult the Hambukushu Traditional Authority on the management of the Bwabwata area.

According to the committee’s report, the Hambukushu Traditional Authority attempted to address the issues through former President Hifikepunye Pohamba, and late President Hage Geingob who both showed their willingness to address the issue by instructing the line ministers to attend to the matter since July 2013 and July 2016 respectively.

However, nothing was done by the ministers despite directives from both former heads of State.

“It is evident through the public hearings and consultative meetings with the relevant Ministries, that there is a lack of willingness on the part of the Ministry to address the plight of the Hambukushu community,” stated the report.

The committee has recommended to Parliament that the three line ministries mainly, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism; the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, and the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development must engage the Traditional Authorities and discuss the matter for a lasting solution.

It further recommended that the Hambukushu Traditional Authority must table the matter at the Council of the Traditional Leaders as per the Traditional Authority Act, Act 25 of 2000, and Council of Traditional Leaders Act, Act 13 of 1997 as amended, for consideration.

It also recommended that both MEFT and MWALR, repair the collapsed fence in Bwabwata National Park (Buffalo fence core boundary) that was built during the colonial regime.

As well as to fast-track the repair of Mahango Game Park fence to avoid the mingling of livestock with wild animals, and prevent the spreading of Foot and Mouth Disease.

Meanwhile, the committee also recommended that the ordinance of 1974 must be reviewed with urgency as soon as possible to bring it in line with the independent Namibia.

While also recommending the new Bill that will combine all the Nature Conservation Ordinances and Legislation to be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for scrutiny and public consultation before tabling in the National Assembly.

The report follows several consultations conducted with various stakeholders regarding the petition.

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