Swapo backbencher and member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Tjekero Tweya questioned why only the Hambukushu people cannot access the Bwabwata National Park.
According to a Cabinet decision no domesticated animals are allowed in the national park.
The Hambukushu people submitted a petition to the National Assembly on 19 November 2021
calling the National Assembly to revisit the Cabinet decision of 1999; that no cattle be
allowed in Bwabwata National Park or any other Game Park in the North-East among others.
“Why is it that in other game parks animals are allowed and even those that are bordering the parks, but except in the Bwabwata national park, why is it having a special treatment. And who came up with a policy to have a permanent red zone with no other alternative route in a Namibian democratic state?’’ Tweya questioned.
Tweya said that while this practice is ongoing, livelihoods of people are being trampled upon, while also questioning if the affected residents were ever consulted before putting up the fence. further questioning if African Buffalos are only found in the Bwabwata area.
Tweya made these remarks during a Public Hearing with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on
Constitutional and Legal Affairs with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform today,
Present during the hearing were officials from the MAWLR delegated by the newly appointed acting Executive Director of MAWLR Ndiyapuki Nghituwamata and the chief veterinarian officer Albertina Shilongo.
Shilongo responded that the presence of African Buffalos made it necessary to decommission a fence as precautionary measure to curb the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease.
Meanwhile, the MAWLR ED emphasized that the ministry is currently in the process of finishing the
revival of the Rundu abattoir expected to be completed this year in August, which will then serve as
a quarantine area for some farmers’ livestock to help trade with other parts of the country and abroad.
The ED further said that mechanisms are put in place to ensure that farmers are not totally cut off from the market, with the Katima Mulilo abbatoir, which is currently in usage, and they have managed to trade beef across the country and abroad from the FMD zone area.
Despite an elaborative presentation, the standing committee is not convinced by the justification of a red zone, stating that it imposes hardship on the residents and it does not make any sense. Especially when there are other game parks in the country that have had a unique case as Bwabwata, but they are not facing a permanent cordon.
“It is as if the person who did the set-up is saying we do not care as long as it not me, at the expense of the people, which forces the people to act against the government. Why are the Hambukushu people being punished? What did they do wrong”, lamented another member of the committee Elias Dingara.
The MAWLR ED assured the committee that they will engage their counterparts in the ministry of Environment and Tourism to ensure that they decommission the fence to an inclusive location, as well as to fix it while looking for amicable solutions to serve the needs of both the park and its inhabitants as well as its borders.
The committee will now compile a report to submit to the National Assembly with recommendations for further debate, of which the committee chairperson Lletus Karondo hinted that should there be
anything that might need clarity, they will recall the stakeholders before submitting the report.