10 July 2018

Namibia: Schools Cannot Be Fishing Rights Holders - Steenkamp

THE education ministry's permanent secretary, Sanet Steenkamp, yesterday said schools are not allowed to be shareholders in companies applying for fishing rights.

In an interview with The Namibian, Steenkamp said it has been brought to the ministry's attention that companies or individuals applying for fishing rights have approached schools, particularly "special schools for vulnerable communities", to list them as beneficiary shareholders on applications in order to be considered favourably by the fisheries ministry.

Applications for fishing rights, which opened at the beginning of June, require would-be holders to identify a certain community or an entity which would benefit through corporate social responsibility from a fishing quota.

The Namibian has in the past reported that companies used, abused or exploited vulnerable communities, poor people and persons with disabilities in order to be allocated fishing rights.

In some cases, communities and poor Namibians were used as fronts for companies to get fishing quotas, only to be overlooked or deliberately forgotten during profit-sharing.

The Namibian reported in 2015 that two people with disabilities sued their partners in a fishing company, alleging that they were fleeced out of their portion of nearly N$9 million in dividends since 2011.

Steenkamp yesterday said the ministry has taken note that some schools were "misused or wrongly implicated or sidestepped" by some applicants in the past, and have not benefited.

Last month, the PS issued a directive to education directors in all 14 regions to prevent schools from "participating in business and benefiting as shareholders from corporate organisations".

The directive was issued after the ministry became aware that schools "are being approached by applicants seeking fishing rights to include such schools as shareholders and beneficiaries".

"One director, specifically in the Oshana region, reported to us that there has been a school which was approached for such benefits. What they do is that they approach especially the special schools for vulnerable communities, but we at the ministry said that we cannot allow that to happen," she stressed.

Steenkamp thus urged schools and regional education directors to report such cases, adding that schools were only permitted to receive donations from fishing companies.

"Schools are not business entities, and are therefore not allowed to engage as shareholding partners to benefit from fishing rights. They are, however, allowed to receive donations from corporate organisations in monetary terms or in kind as part of their social responsibility," she explained.

Khomas education director Gerard Vries told The Namibian yesterday that no such approaches to schools in the region had been reported, and that such activities would not be tolerated.


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