The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism has reiterated that it consulted the Hambukushu Traditional Authority on several occasions regarding the establishment of the Bwabwata National Park, despite denials by the chief, Fumu Erwin Mbambo.
The issue is now the subject of a Parliamentary Standing Committee Hearing following a petition on 19 November 2021 by the Hambukushu to the National Assembly.
At the hearing that started in Windhoek this week, the MEFT officials told the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs in no uncertain terms that numerous consultations were held the tribal authority by various responsible state actors.
According to the ministry, consultations were done by the Ministry of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation, Ministry of Regional, Local Government and Housing, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development and by the Regional Governor at the time.
In the Cabinet submission of 8 June 1999, it stated that Chief Mayuni, Chief Sifu, Fumu Erwin Mbambo and headman Kippi George were all consulted at the time.
The ministry also clarified why domestic animals are prohibited from grazing in the Bwabwata National Park, saying that it is aimed at preventing livestock from spreading FMD and lung sickness diseases which will endanger the wild animals in the park.
The petition among others is calling on the National Assembly to revisit the decision of 1999, which prohibits cattle from entering the Bwabwata National Park as well as any other game park in the Northern-east.
The petition also alleges that the proclamation of the Bwabwata National Park of 2007, was illegal, hence they are now calling for it to be revisited, claiming that there were no proper consultations.
The hearing between the two parties was adjourned until further notice, to allow the standing committee members to compare information gathered thus far and to prepare questions that might require the ministry’s clarity.
The Khwe people, who the current the inhabitants of the Bwabwata National Park, are said to be in support of the establishment of the park.