THE Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, has blasted a decision made at a recently held meeting on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to reject Namibia’s proposition on the sale of its ivory stockpiles.
Speaking at a press conference in the capital, Shifeta threatened that if CITES does not revoke its decision on prohibiting the sale of Namibia’s ivory stockpile, the country would have no choice but to pull out of the fauna and flora watchdog organisation.
CITES at the conference held between 17 and 28 August in Geneva, Switzerland, declined a proposal by Southern African member states to recommence sales on ivory stockpiles.
Shifeta further stated that there is no evidence between the sale of ivory on the formal market and poaching.
“As African countries we continue to be used by others who have agendas. If you sell ivory, this will lower the demand for this product and the illegal sale of these products by poachers will decline as it will be available on the formal market,” he argued.
Shifeta also accused CITES animal right activists of being in cahoots with poaches, adding that if SADC leaves the organisation, it would lose more than 8% of the planets endangered species population.
“If SADC member states leaves CITES they will be left to protect zoo animals you find locked up. Namibia will consult broadly in consideration of our membership to the CITES. We cannot be affiliated to something that does not support our interest and the wellbeing of our people,” Shifeta lamented.
He stated that other proposals submitted to the organisation that were also turned down include a proposed amendment to allow for community participation in CITES processes.
In addition, a document calling for a formation of the Permanent Rural Community Committee to ensure that the voice of rural communities who are affected by CITES decisions is adequately heard with Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and Zimbabwe, as co-proponents, was also rejected.