The official opposition has hit back at the fisheries minister, Bernard Esau, for selling dreams to disempowered Namibians while excluding them from ripping benefits out of the fishing sector.
Speaking in parliament this week, PDM’s treasurer-general, Nico Smit said that he failed to understand how the minister believes that, “any of the unemployed and often functionally literate people can be expected to know what a company is let alone how to create one unless they get assisted by the rich and well-connected”.
Smit was irked by pronouncements that applicants must have access to the fishing industry in the form of fishing vessels foe them to get fishing rights.
“The minister further suggests that would-be beneficiaries could also enter other parts of the fishing industry such as processing, logistics, supplies and many other economic activities but fails to state how this is to be accomplished by these vulnerable people.”
“It is utterly cynical when the Minister suggests that he would encourage and I quote: "women, youth, people living with disabilities, liberation war veterans and people living in economically marginalised communities" unquote to apply for fishing rights under his new conditions. It must be blatantly obvious to everyone that this is simply an ill-conceived pipe dream,” he said.
He said the announcement by the minister regarding the application for fishing rights and the conditions to harvest some marine resources for commercial purposes was completely off the mark.
“It misses the real problem and thereby excludes everybody who should actually be the beneficiaries of Namibia's marine resources and predominantly favours the rich and well-connected.”
“I further find it inexplicable that the Honourable Minister has already published this announcement in the Government Gazette and now says and I quote: "I am open to suggestions on how we can protect vulnerable communities from exploitation by e1itesin fishing rights. I am keen to listen to Honourable Members and stakeholders on alternatives to the PTY approach" end of quote.”
“Where then did the Honourable Minister get this PTY idea from if there's been no significant consultation? It seems to me the Honourable Minister has put the cart before the horse in this matter,” he submitted.
Smit further argued that those who are expected to benefit from the fishing rights had no money challenging Esau on where he expects them to get “thousands of dollars required to found a company and pay for the various other costs attached to such an undertaking.”
He has watered down suggestions for people to create companies which he said was an impossible task.
“Rather the ministry must propose amendments to the law to close these loopholes and to specifically protect the rights of these vulnerable people so that they may receive their shares as well as dividends on the profits made by fishing companies.”
“What the Honourable Minister is doing is making the matter far more complicated than is necessary - I suggest that there is a simple solution that can be carried out quickly and effectively,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Swapo Youth league indicated that it had a closed door meeting with the minister which dragged on until 11pm and managed to understand each other.