Health minister opposes tobacco project

March 11, 2015, 8:02am

Health minister opposes tobacco project

ONAMUTAYI – The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi, has joined the ranks of Namibians opposed to a 10 000-hectare tobacco farm in the Zambezi Region involving Namibia Oriental Tobacco CC – a Chinese investor.

Former Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) spokesperson, Job Amupanda, and a group of other youths exposed plans to develop a 10 000-hectare fertile piece of land at Liselo into a tobacco farm.

Kamwi, who in his term as minister of health initiated – among others – the Tobacco Products Control Act that outlaws smoking in public places, condemned the proposed tobacco farm this week. He objected to the project when he officially inaugurated Onamutayi Primary Health Care Clinic in the Oshana Region on Monday.

“If what was reported in the media last week is true, then it is very unfortunate. Tobacco to be planted in Namibia, this is very disappointing,” lamented the outgoing minister of health.

He reiterated that the tobacco industry is not in the best interest of the country because it is hazardous to people’s health and the health hazards of this sector far outweigh its economic benefits.

“This project of tobacco will cut our lives short. It is very unfortunate that we just introduced the law, put it in practice last year July to stop smoking but now we are planting tobacco,” he said.

He was referring to the law that prohibits smoking in public places, any outdoor public place or any area within a certain distance to a window, a ventilation inlet, door or entrance that officials still find difficult to enforce.

Kamwi elucidated smoking is the cause of cancer of the lung and of the oesophagus and that those involved in the production and processing of tobacco do it for the money and not for the good health of the people.

He questioned why the investor is not keen to grow maize and vegetables instead of tobacco.

“I am urging the regional leadership to make sure no smoking at public places should be tolerated,” stressed Kamwi, who also warned the public to guard against the evils that often face society.

Namibia Oriental Tobacco CC, which has Ng Yung listed as the only director of the company, plans to use the land to grow tobacco and maize.

New Era