14 December 2012

Namibia: Muharukua Unimpressed By Kaoko Demonstrations

THE deputy minister of gender equality and child welfare, Angelika Muharukua, has castigated Himba and Zemba communities who held a second protest march at Opuwo last week to clamour for more say in how Kaokoland affairs are run.

“They are politicising things. They are killing the future generation,” said Muharukua, who hails from Kaokoland in the Kunene Region. “On the one hand, people want development, but on the other, they are opposing development.”

Various Himba and Zemba communities handed over a petition to a government official last week in which they demanded that the planned Baynes hydropower station be discarded because it would negatively impact on the environment and their social wellbeing.

They also complained about a “foreign invasion” of land in the Kaokoland, which forces them off their traditional lands.

The groups called on the government to stop the implementation of the Communal Land Reform Act of 1992, which they said would end land grabbing.

They want their traditional authorities to be recognised by Government, and want their governance structures respected by the State.

Muharukua said former President Sam Nujoma sent a two-man delegation to these communities shortly after independence to organise traditional authorities.

She said the communities refused the offer since they claimed that Kuaima Riruako, then in the DTA, was their chief.

As far as complaints about mining in the area goes, Muharukua said although feasibility studies are underway to gauge the viability of mining activities there, actual mining has not yet started. She agreed that communities should be consulted before any mining starts.

She did, however, support Government’s plans for the Baynes hydroelectric scheme.

“I want to say to our people, please, we can oppose things that affect us but we must compromise with Government. Some of the communities will not be affected by the dam because they are not staying in the area. You have to oppose things that affect you. Our people have to understand what they are talking about,” Muharukua said.

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