The devil is in the detail

27 September 2019 | Columns

The news broke on Wednesday that a very large herd of elephants, 70 in total, gained access to the Musese green scheme and managed, within a few hours, to destroy 35 tonnes of wheat.

We repeat that: 35 tons of wheat. This, in a time, when rations are being handed out to starving Namibian families and food insecurity is estimated to be at almost 40%. Yes, it is a period of severe drought and elephants will enter, where they are able, to source what is green. They too, are hungry. However, those employed at Musese are now concerned for their jobs, and yes, you guessed it, their ability to feed their families. Moreover, Musese is well-known for having conflict with marauding elephants, so this was not new to those employed at the green scheme. What is remarkable is that a green scheme, lush with growing crops, in an area known for its elephants, was constructed and put into action without any elephant-proof fencing. What further compounds matters is that no environmental impact assessment was done prior to the establishment of the green scheme, and according to the environment ministry, had this been done, challenges with elephants would have been flagged. It is so typical of Namibia. We make lofty plans in boardrooms, and then, when those plans are executed, they are often without any depth or future planning. We are a nation with leaders who stick plasters on wounds that are festering, without cleaning them. We are a nation with leaders who react after the problem has arisen, even though we were most likely warned it was on its way. Let us look at the current water crisis. Where is the implementation of the master plan to connect all the dams from Naute to Von Bach? No money. Let us look at hepatitis E. Where is the decentralisation and provision of decent sanitation? No money. Air Namibia? TransNamib? Roads Contractor Company? No money. The devil is in the detail, people.