Red line removal to cost Nam N$6b

31 May 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

Namibia stands to lose more than N$6 billion in revenue if attempts to remove the controversial veterinary cordon fence (VCF) - also known as the red line - succeed, the Livestock Producers Organisation (LPO) warned.

LPO chairperson Thinus Pretorius expressed disappointment over increasing calls to remove the fence, further warning that Namibia risks losing its animal health status the red line is abolished.

The warning comes days after Affirmative Repositioning leader Job Amupanda filed a case in the High Court seeking a court order to have the VCF removed and having it declared illegal and unconstitutional.

Amupanda insisted that the court must order the agriculture ministry to remove the fence within 90 days.

“A total of 72% of Namibia's population is indirectly or directly dependent on agriculture. We market approximately 500 000 cattle and 750 000 sheep nationally a year, of which the domestic consumption is between 25 and 30%,” Pretorius said.

He added that the rest is exported, which brings in N$6 billion into the country.

Not political

Pretorius further stressed that the red line has nothing to do with politics.

“This is so that Namibia can maintain the animal health status as prescribed by the European Union (EU) so that we can export our meat.”

He added that the government has also done studies to move the fence to Angola.

“Our local people who live along the border voted against farming in both Namibia and Angola. The outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) in 2015 and last year came from Angola.

“Nobody is going to benefit if we lose the red line. On the contrary. It's really unfortunate that a leader [Amupanda] can be so emotional,” he said.

The defendants in the Amupanda court matter are listed as agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein, the government, Attorney General Festus Mbandeka and an official from the directorate of veterinary services, Hango Nambinga.

Amupanda has asked the court whether the red line is sanctioned by any laws as he feels “such laws violate the dignity of Namibians, is discriminatory and unconstitutional”.

Draconian

Amupanda further described the VCF as a brutal, shameful and draconian policy seeking to sustain discrimination of people residing north of the red line.

According to him, the fence was erected to act as a shield and to insulate people who reside south of the red line and their livestock from perceived or actual diseases which emanate from those north of the red line and their livestock.

“This protection and insulation are not accorded to people who reside north of the red line and their livestock. This is discriminatory,” he said.