The Namibian government is coming under heavy pressure from influential politicians in north-eastern Namibia to allow the increased harvesting of rare hardwood trees - at the risk of accelerating already rampant deforestation in the country.
Politicians are putting Namibia's Environment Minister under pressure to lift a 2018 ban on felling rare hardwood trees.
The government banned the felling and transportation of timber in November 2018, citing concerns over unprocedural logging and its environmental impact in the Caprivi Strip (now called Zambezi), and the Kavango East and West regions.
The Namibian understands that Swapo leaders in Kavango East are leaning heavily on the environment ministry to lift the ban on grounds that the ruling party risks losing votes in the area in national elections later in 2019.
Among those who have publicly criticised the ban is the governor of Kavango East, Samuel Mbambo.
A leaked government document shows that Mbambo has a personal interest. It lists him as one of 231 politicians, traditional leaders, MPs, business people, church leaders and others who, after the ban was imposed, applied for clearance from the environment ministry to cut down nearly 200,000 trees over five years.
The trees stand on 2,500-hectare plots in the...