ON 17th October, 2018, I attended the “Final National Consultative Meeting on the Wildlife and Protected Areas Management Bill” that was organised by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and held at a local hotel. To my shock this workshop seemed not to have been advertised widely and was not attended by the print media because I saw very little in the print media of all the key vital discussions points that took place the whole day.
During the consultations, I recommended to the workshop that Clause 38 (which deals with private game parks and nature reserves) be deleted and removed from this Bill because it does not belong there and it did not take into consideration the outcomes of the just completed National Land Conference.
This recommendation however was not supported by Dr. Malan Lindique (Former PS of MET) and Dr. Chris Brown (CEO Namibian Chamber of Environment). Nonetheless, and after my brief explanation without providing too much detail of what I know is behind the need to have this Clause 38 in this Bill and what it will economically offer to those who are supporting it, the workshop to some extent agreed to remove this clause pending the review of the final resolutions that came out of the recently completed Land Conference in order to asses any likely implications to the land reform process, considering the fact that in my view the proposed private game parks and nature reserves ONLY target to empower already empowered commercial farmers with legal instruments to now even own the country’s natural resources and wildfire, another key national productive assert linked to tourism and hospitality.
I promised the workshop that if they bring back this clause, I will fight it in this Bill and if it goes to Parliament, I will still fight it and if it goes to Cabinet, I will continue to fight it until its out because it’s unacceptable.
But I am 100% sure that the key players driving this “hidden agenda” of private game parks and nature reserves are also hard at work. They will continue to push for legalising private game parks and nature reserves. They will continue to maneuver this issue into law and in the name of promoting conservation in Namibia, while they know very well that the long term goal is to curtail the country’s natural / wildlife/ tourism / hospitality resource within private farmlands that will then be transformed into mega private game parks and nature reserves that will be at par, if not better than the contrary’s national parks such as the Etosha, Skeleton, Tsau //Khaeb National Park, /Ai /Ais and others.
An even stronger grip on tourism and hospitality by only a few people is indeed the end game and some of us know that very well as I have been within this environment for now more 15 years and I have seen it coming but now it’s real. By the time the masses works-up, it will be too late their strategy would have worked and all the key productive assets will be in few hand with a strong law on wildlife and natural resources management and control behind them.
Although its presented in the name of promoting conservation in Namibia, the long term goal of this Clause 38 is aimed at creating or turning key privately owned (titled) commercial farmland into private game parks and nature reserves, starting with the current so called private nature reserves, game and hunting farms. Its seems to me, that certain environmentalists groups linked to tilted farmers who call themselves / operate so called private nature reserves, hunting / game farms in Namibia are targeting to privatise the country’s wildlife and natural resources which in its self is unconstitutional because the natural resources belong to the State for the citizens of this country.
Because of the lack of understanding of the technicalities of these issues, private game parks and nature reserves in Namibia were almost achieved on 17th October, because the majority of those that attended the workshop knew why they were there and minority who were there did not understand the weight of this Clause 38.
Few interlinked curtailment of the conservations, tourism and hospitality strategists would be celebrating and all the so called private nature reserves and game farmers would now be preparing and waiting for an Act of Parliament in order for them to sell their newly minted private parks and nature reserves easily and at very high prices compared to the current valuations which correctly treats these areas as agricultural land currently being used for conservations, tourism, hunting farms and hospitality etc.
I, myself became aware of the secret push for private game parks and nature reserves by certain individuals linked to the well-known southern Namibia so called “private nature reserve” in 2007 when I was working on a GiZ project of developing regulations for the Sperrgebiet National Park, now call Tsau //Khaeb National Park.
I was then asked to include the provisions for having private game parks and nature reserves in the regulations I was working on which I rejected and I know that since then and despite my unmatched technical education and experience, I have been viewed negatively or regarded as an environmental specialist outsider or bad guy by the “Environmental Clique”.
Since then, I have been aware of the secret meetings, campaigns and a push to legalise private game parks and nature reserves in the name of conservation and seeing this issue brought up so clearly, although so quietly and been supported under Clause 38 was not surprising.
In conclusion, many people in Namibia and other parts of world struggle in poverty each and every day while the key resources that could change their lives sometimes are out of their reach in name of environmental protection and conservation, while a few are thriving on the same resources in one way or another including in the name of conservation.
Any genuine environmental protection and conservation initiative will only be sustainably successful, if its people-centered and for coexistence because environmental interests are also economic interests and the conservation of resources, the survival of the ecosystems and the health of population, are all essential to the maintenance of not only the local and national economies but also the global economy which is very much centered on local, regional and global Geopolitics.
If we do not bring coexistence to environmental protection and conservation in order to achieve our true and fair socioeconomic goals, it will not be surprising for me that one day we will see our rural masses moving in national parks and taking residence there.
Dr. Sindila Mwiya
Technical Consultant / Founder
Risk-Based Solutions (RBS) CC
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