THE days where companies or people abuse the gullibility of weaker members of society for their own financial gain are forever over.
The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr. Albert Kawana announced the companies and entities that were successful with their application for new fishing rights and those that were reissued with rights.
He said a stringent process was followed to enable Namibians to determine the benefit they derive from the resource in the future. He said to fully Namibianize the fishing industry will still take some time but that the new right holders already represent a broad spectrum of the nation which is a giant step in the right direction.
“As we strive to achieve Namibianization of the fisheries sector, I appeal for national unity so that we are not derailed from our path. Given what has been achieved so far, I believe that we can achieve our goal in the shortest possible time,” he said.
He said the allocation of rights has succeeded to transform the fisheries sector by ensuring that the youth, women, veterans of the national liberation struggle, marginalized communities, citizens with disabilities, workers, peasants, communities, traditional authorities, regions, students, and religious organizations all have a stake in the sector.
“I can state with confidence that all these interest groups have been accommodated in the new applications,” he said.
Dr. Kawana said that the next exercise will be to ensure that there is equitable distribution of resources among Namibian people so that the marine resources are not dominated by only a few individuals.
“In this regard, there will be extensive regional consultation. Time has come to take the war against poverty to a new frontier. Those who are most affected by poverty should have a bigger voice in this war,” he said.
He said that history was made because it is the first time that such an extensive selection process to benefit as many people as possible has taken place.
In order to finalise the selection of right holders, the University of Namibia assembled an evaluation team that was tasked to carry out the technical evaluation. The team consisted of six supervisors who specialized in various fields such as law, economics, mathematics, statistics, and fisheries. In addition, 38 enumerators at a university degree level were tasked to carry out the technical evaluation under the guidance of the supervisors.
Dr. Kawana formally apologised to the nation for the long delay in the processing and finalization of the applications. Almost two and a half years have elapsed since the process started.
At the same time, he expressed appreciation for all the help he received to make the final selection. He thanked the people from UNAM and his staff for working tirelessly through the difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to eventually finalise the selection process and said that he will take personal responsibility for any mistakes that were made.
“I am pained by the fact that some applicants, including those who met the set criteria, did not make it. It was never my intention to deny fellow Namibians bread on their table. The limitation of resources was a major constraint. The size of the cake is far too small compared to the number of applications,” he said.
He said 213 of the new applicants were selected while 85 of the entities, whose rights expired, were selected from the more than 5 000 applications received by the ministry at the end of August 2018.
Dr. Kawana stated that a list of shareholders of the successful companies will be published in the next two months.
“This exercise is just the beginning, therefore it is not possible to solve all the problems overnight. This is the first time in the history of our country where successful applicants come from all 14 regions of Namibia. It is time for each and every community to benefit from the resources of our country. It is time for the workers of Namibia, especially those who are working in the industry to also become part owners of this national resource,” he said.
Dr. Kawana said that he is determined to consult extensively in all corners of Namibia so that the fisheries ministry can develop a comprehensive review of the fisheries sector in the years to come in order for all Namibians to benefit from the marine resources.
“I believe that there is room for more Namibians to indirectly benefit from this national resource by ensuring that fishing companies source all their goods and services which are available in Namibia locally,” Dr. Kawana concluded.