Zorena Jantze and Eba Kandovazu
THE Chairperson of the People’s Litigation Centre, Mathias Haufiku has stated that they will be proceeding with legal actions against the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine resources, after they failed to respond to an ultimatum on 21 August to stop the auctioning of fishing quota to the highest bidders.
The fisheries ministry is auctioning off fishing quotas to both local and international companies in a bid to raise foreign currency to mitigate the cost of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The auction was initiated on 17 August 2020 and ended on Friday,21 August 2020. Successful bidders will be announced on 27 August.
“We didn’t get any response from them on Friday, which was the deadline for them to respond, as such we will be meeting up today with our trustee’s to sort out the details on litigation. Yes, we definitely will be taking them to the high court,” Haufiku said.
In a letter penned to Dr. Albert Kawana, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Haufiku stated, “As a result of numerous stakeholders and interested parties who have approached us, we address this letter to the government, more specifically the Fisheries and Finance ministries.”
He further chastised that the time from the date of opening of bidding to the date that the money is expected in the government coffers is a mere 15 days. “In our view, this is shocking considering the fact that 5176 companies applied for fishing quotas in 2018 and are yet to receive substantive responses,” Haufiku stated.
He further stressed that the current Minister is using amendments put in place by former Fisheries Minister, Bernhard Esau and former Justice Minister Sacky Shangala, which gives the fisheries minister a carte blanche with regard to how it disposes of fishing quotas.
“In 2015, section 3 of the act tilted, “Control over Marine Resources” was amended and widened to give the Minister of Fisheries powers to enter into any agreement with any person or entity to advance any social-economic, cultural or other government objectives. It is clear that these amendments to the act are what you rely on to justify auctioning off of fishing quotas.” Haufiku lamented.
He concluded that the PLC together with stakeholders and various interested parties will approach the High Court of Namibia to review and set aside the decision of the Minister of Fisheries to auction off fishing quotas.
In addition, Haufiku stated that they will also approach the High Court of Namibia to have the 2015 amendments to the Fisheries and Marine Resources act declared unconstitutional and set aside.
Meanwhile, the urgent application by Sea Flower Pelagic Processing that was scheduled to be heard in the high court this morning, challenging the auction will be heard tomorrow afternoon in the high court.
This will allow for the respondents namely; the fisheries minister, Fishcor, finance minister and public enterprises minister to properly file their replying documents. The hearing notice order was made by presiding Deputy Judge President Hosea Angula.
The challenge by Seaflower was filed on Friday. The respondents are yet to file their affidavits.
Seaflower Board Chairperson Adriaan Louw, has filed his affidavit, in which he says that 24 333.33 metric tonnes of the allowable catching of horse mackerel is the amount outstanding to Seaflower through Fishcor, in terms of an agreement between the parties.
The challenge, according to him is thus an urgent one because the auctioning was intended for 21 August 2020, last Friday.