A sea of 185

01 July 2020 | Opinion

In February when the High-Level Panel on the Namibian Economy presented the second set of recommendations to President Hage Geingob, it suggested that national resources be distributed more broadly than is happening now. “We believe we need a framework where the natural resources of the country should benefit the majority of the country, Namibians. All I am saying is the current system is not working,” Johannes !Gawaxab, the panel's chairperson, remarked at State House. There was a strong sense that !Gawaxab was referring to, among other things, fishing quotas that have for years only benefitted a tiny minority at the expense of their entire nation. Yet months later, the Geingob administration went ahead with the old regime of fishing rights distribution, with 81 members of the old boys' club handed new rights.

In total, 185 entities received fishing rights. Yes, 185 in a country of over 2.5 million people. One of the key functions of any state is to be a distributor of national resources and not a source of individual survival. Preservation of individual interest, as is with things like fishing quotas, is biased and serves a club of ultra-rich people who donate blankets to old-age homes in return. Citizens of a country with massively endowed territorial waters, such as Namibians, deserve more than just boxes of tinned fish and hand sanitisers. It was suggested elsewhere that fishing quotas be owned by the state, which must then sell them to interested fishing companies. This, of course, would not sit well with politicians who, according to public records, are the key beneficiaries of this dodgy scheme.

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