New applicants get 53% of fishing quotas

The fisheries minister has described allegations that no new applicants were allocated fishing quotes as “pure fabrication” allegations that no new applicants were allocated fishing quotas.

29 May 2020 | Fishing

OGONE TLHAGE







WINDHOEK

Eighty-one old fishing right holders have been handed new fishing quotas, while new 104 applicants have also gotten the nod, fisheries minister Albert Kawana told Namibian Sun yesterday.

An irate Kawana yesterday dismissed a media report suggesting that no fishing rights have been awarded to any new applicants, who total about 5 000.

Kawana is expected to make a public statement today on the allocation.

“I’ll give all details in my announcement but in the interest of transparency, I can tell you now that 52.6% of the quotas have been allocated to new applicants,” he said.

Legal advice

“I wanted this process to be legally sound that’s why I sought legal advice from the Attorney General on whether old rights holders who have been awarded quotas for the past 20 years were still eligible for allocation,” said Kawana, himself a former attorney general.

“I wanted this process to be as transparent as possible and that’s why we gave the evaluation job to Unam [the University of Namibia] because when I came in this ministry, I realised that people in the ministry, who previously presided over this process, have been involved in corrupt allocations of quotas.”

Unam allocated 38 evaluators to the process, supervised by six professionals from varying fields of expertise, Kawana said.

“Among key considerations were women, youth and regional representation. Old rights holders were considered on the basis of their capabilities, such as owning processing plants for value addition.”

Record of transparency

The minister, who was thrust into the portfolio after the resignation and arrest of former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau over the so-called Fishrot bribery scandal, defended his record of transparency over the years.

“People want you to award them quotas because they are Swapo members, but I don’t work like that. I am a minister for all Namibians and whoever qualifies would be considered.”

Kawana said he is being targeted because of the upcoming Swapo elective congress in 2022, but added that he planned on retiring and would not avail himself in the next election.

“I want to retire with a clear conscience, knowing that I have served my country to the best of my ability. I am not interested in political affiliation. Just be Namibian.”

Come clean

Reacting to the media report of yesterday, the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) threatened to take government to court if it does not adequately respond to questions regarding the allocation of fishing quotas.

PDM president McHenry Venaani said his party had written to President Hage Geingob, calling for the nullification of the allocation of fishing rights if it was true that the 5 000 new applicants had been left out in the cold.

Venaani said he wants government to explain the manner in which the rights were allocated.

If the response is unsatisfactory, it would prompt the opposition party to take the matter to the High Court, he said.

“If Swapo does not come clean, we will seek recourse at the High Court. We will seek a nullification of the fishing allocations. We will be the first in the High Court to nullify these [fishing] allocations,” Venaani said.

Geingob has seven days to respond to Venaani’s questions, the opposition leader said.

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