Namibia: SPYL Blasts Phosphate Mining Plan

18 September 2019

The Swapo Party Youth League has rebuked the proposed seabed fertiliser mining for exports, warning that Namibia's ocean should not be sacrificed for profits by certain individuals.

The ruling party's youth arm made these remarks in a strong statement issued yesterday though their spokesperson, Gerson Dumeni.

"SPYL affirms it loudly and clearly, no to phosphate mining. We say no to the financial exploitation of our resources at the expense of our environment.

"No to the auctioning of our country to capitalist monopolies, with no regard to the legacy that will be inherited by future generations," he stated.

The youth league's strong stance against phosphate mining goes against president Hage Geingob's pressure on the environment ministry to make a decision on the application for marine phosphate mining.

Few in Geingob's administration have spoken out on marine phosphate mining, which has been branded as toxic by environmentalists.

"It is our mandate to defend and protect the national interests of the country, and never to trade its resources to certain individuals who have no national interest at heart, and see nothing wrong with auctioning the future of our country to the highest international bidders," the youth league's spokesperson said.

Dumeni added that "these bidders have little or no regard for the future of this country and that of young people, whose future is being placed at risk for monetary gain".

This appears to be a parting shot to the proponents of phosphate mining - Omani billionaire Mohammed Al Barwani, and his partner Knowledge Katti and their company Namibia Marine Phosphate.

The youth league said marine phosphate mining will also have a deadly effect on Namibia's fishing industry, which contributes greatly to the country's economy and creates jobs.

"We cannot afford to risk the future of the current generation and generations to come," Dumeni added.

He said marine phosphate mining has the potential of damaging Namibia's precious marine ecosystem, and robbing future generations of a viable and reliable fishing sector.

"We should bear in mind that should this project be given the green light, our marine life could be endangered, and the temporary financial rewards will be negated by the long-term irreversible deterioration of our environment and marine resources," Dumeni stressed.

The youth league thus urged all patriotic Namibians to stand up against this "doomed project".

"SPYL has taken cognisance of the public outcry over this issue, including by the workers' unions. SPYL shares the same sentiments, and is cautioning the government through the Ministry of Environment and Tourism not to approve the marine phosphate mining plan," he continued.

The statement comes a week after Namibia's biggest union federation - the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) - led a demonstration against phosphate mining.

Geingob has never criticised or raised questions about phosphate mining. In fact, he is seen as a key supporter of the project by some of his Cabinet ministers.

Former president Sam Nujoma has, on the other hand, blasted the proposed seafloor mining since 2013. He supported fisheries minister Bernhard Esau's stance against the project.

New Era quoted Nujoma in 2013 as saying: "These imperialists think we Africans are stupid, and they want to destroy our fisheries resources - which is the future of our children. They must go back to Australia."

The phosphate mining saga is directly linked to president Geingob, who pressured the environment minister to make an immediate decision on the project. The head of state, who failed to answer previous questions sent to him on this mater, appears to be conflicted.

Geingob's actions in the phosphate mining saga are being watched closely, especially since he brought the Omani billionaire to Namibia six years ago.

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