Civil society welcomes Canadian investigation into ReconAfrica

There are increasing doubts about promises made by the Canadian oil and gas company regarding its operations in Namibia.

17 September 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

Namibian civil society groups are elated about the possibility of an investigation into ReconAfrica by the Canadian TSX Venture Exchange and other Canadian regulators.

This follows after civil society groups from Canada and the USA submitted a request to the TSX Venture Exchange (TSX-V) to investigate potential misrepresentation into the disclosures and public communications of the Canadian oil and gas company regarding its operations in Namibia.

According to a statement issued by Liz Frank from the Women's Leadership Centre in Namibia, this new request for an investigation comes on top of filings by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the British Colombia Securities Commission, and an investigation opened by the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority earlier this year.

“Another investigation into ReconAfrica’s promises is looming. We have always been very sceptical with regard to their job figures and economic perspectives for Namibia.

“It’s time for our officials to recognise that Namibia’s true future prosperity cannot be found in past-orientated fossil fuel extraction and financial speculation,” said Rinaani Musutua of the Economic and Social Justice Trust.

Empty promises

The chairperson of Kavango East and West Regional Conservancy and Community Forestry Association, Max Muyemburuko, said ReconAfrica had never really consulted the affected communities and was using unlined pits to store toxic wastewater that might eventually leak into precious groundwater.

“A proper investigation into the company’s disclosures and statements might bring other irregularities to the surface,” Muyemburuko said.

Kileni Fernando, coordinator of the Namibia San Council, stated that “according to Article 32(2) of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilisation or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.”

Fernando said the Khwe people in the Kavango regions had not been consulted on the possible adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural and spiritual impacts of fossil fuel production, and have not given consent to the extraction of oil and gas on their land.

World importance

Dr Chris Brown, CEO of the Namibian Environmental Chamber, said the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) also recently voted in favour of a motion to protect the Okavango from all oil and gas exploitation – including in particular Recon’s plans. d

“The importance of this area is reflected in its status as a World Heritage site, a Ramsar wetland site of international importance, and as part of a five-nation KAZA transboundary treaty area for the development of a green and sustainable economy.

“It is really time to pay attention and respect IUCN’s and Unesco’s decisions and conduct a comprehensive environmental impact assessment that adheres to best international practice and standards,” he said.

Nadia April of the Women’s Leadership Centre said the Canadian investigation confirmed the importance of the strong and enduring resistance in Namibia

“Together with over 120 Namibian civil society groups we call on our government to suspend all oil and gas drilling and exploration in the Kavango East and West regions and establish an independent and impartial public commission of inquiry to critically examine the situation in the light of the social, ecological and climate implications, including the impact on women’s health and human rights,” she responded.

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