Lawyer roped in to stop phosphate mining
Ongwediva – The Confederation of Namibia Fishing Associations (CNFA) has, through its lawyer, given the Ministry of Environment and Tourism until 12h00 today to provide information that would enable it to appeal against the environmental clearance certificate recently awarded to Namibia Marine Phosphate (NMP).
In addition, CNFA has also asked the Ministry of Mines and Energy to confirm or deny whether it has indeed awarded a mining licence to NMP.
CNFA has also asked NMP not to go ahead with any phosphate mining as it is intending to challenge the environment ministry’s decision.
Yesterday, Windhoek lawyer Sisa Namandje confirmed that he had written a letter dated October 21, 2016, on behalf of his client, CNFA.
Namandje’s letter is addressed to the environmental commissioner Teofilus Nghitila.
The letter demands information or documentation that would enable CNFA to take the necessary steps to appeal against Nghitila’s decision.
The media reported on Friday that the 14-day period within which any objections could be raised lapsed after the issuance of the clearance certificate on September 5 2016 was virtually kept under wraps.
It only came to light after a leaked document, confirming issuance, went viral on social media and other digital platforms.
“Our client is deeply and painfully aggrieved by your decision and wishes to take urgent appellate and/or review steps. To enable our client to take such steps we require you to provide us with the following information, particulars and documentations …” reads the letter that went on to list the required information.
The decision by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to grant NMP a clearance certificate grieved players in the fishing sector, including the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhardt Esau, who said he was “shocked to the boots” by the decision that was also kept from him.
News of permission to mine phosphate from the sea has sparked a public outcry.
Both environment minister Pohamba Shifeta and Nghitila – at a press conference held on Thursday last week – defended phosphate mining, maintaining that the issue has been blown out of proportion.
Shifeta compared diamond mining to phosphate mining, maintaining that Namibia is the only country in the world that mines diamonds from the sea, but nobody complains about it.
CNFA is however demanding that Nghitila should, amongst others, provide it with the date on which he had received the assessment report from the NMP, as indicated in Section 35 [of the Environmental Management Act of 2007], the details and all particulars of the notifications made to the public and interested parties, as well as the closing date for submission contemplates, again in terms of Section 35 of the same Act.
“Kindly inform us as to the exact date when you reviewed the NMP’s assessment report as contemplated in terms of Section 36 (1) of the Act. Inform us to what appropriate action you considered and looked, if any, as contemplated in terms of Section 36 (1) (a), (b) and (c) of the Act.”
“If you did not take appropriate action specified under Section 36 (1) (a), (b) and (c), kindly provide us with the reasons and grounds as to why you did not consider and take such appropriate actions.”
“In particular, kindly advise us to whether you consulted all interested parties including our client as contemplated in terms of Section 36 (a), of the Act…”
According to the letter by Namandje, the awarding of the licence to NMP is an act of massive prejudice, and his client, the CNFA, is likely to suffer on account of the decision. He further asked Nghitila to attend to CNFA’s request because, apart from a possible loss, the matter is also of public interest.
Yesterday Nghitila could not be reached for comment as his mobile was on voicemail.
Local businessman Knowledge Katti is the Namibian partner in NMP, through his company Havana Investments, which owns a 15 percent stake in the company. A company belonging to Omani businessman Mohammed Barwani owns the remaining 85 percent in NMP.