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"Black Namibians are intelligent and capable too"

By Sioni Iikela
It is a known fact that arithmetic and science were first practiced in Africa. Whether it was by blacks or whites, to me is not an issue, but I know blacks are the locals of the African continent, hence it befits for me to conclude that Africans are the father of arithmetic.

A lot has been said about reconciliation by both political, traditional, community and faith leaders. It is our collective responsibility to make sure that we co-exist in peace and harmony, whereby no body thinks they are more important than that group and color. It has become evident recently that racism is taking the order of the day. Not long ago that a white person killed a black person and buried him together with his dogs.

As this was not enough, I have taken note of the article that appeared in the Insight Magazine of September 2013 titled "Green Greed Weak professional criteria, poor capacity and lacking transparency are stoking highly questionable practices and potentially contributing to severe degradation of environment", this article is too shallowly written, harbors hatred towards blacks and do not deserve to have been published in an independent Namibia to say the least.

I would like to put the facts straight forward, as trying to address some of the whites who still living under the hangover of Botha mentality of white supremacy The Environmental Management Act (EMA) do not make provisions for the establishment of the Environmental practitioner's (EAP) association;
EMA allows anybody who qualifies to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA);
Conducting EIA is not an exclusive club of certain individuals, but whoever qualifies can conduct an EIA under the current legislation;
I am aware of some retrogressive only white so called regulatory bodies that are discriminating against black Namibians from practicing their professions, one of such is the body that regulate engineers in this country.

The purported article vomited a lot of attacks both on the office and the person of the professional occupying the office of the Environmental Commissioner. For some of these whites do not know, the mandate of the Office of the Environmental Commissioner is to review EIAs submitted and issue environmental clearances, and not necessarily to evaluate the person who did the EIA.

The article made reference to the public consultation which is provided for in Section of EMA and its regulations. The first draft of the EMA which was developed by our predecessors never had a provision for the establishment of the EAP association, which is done for personal interests of the few with the intention to exclude others.

Conducting EIA is not a trade of exclusive club of few individuals who claims to know better than others. We are aware of Namibia's Professional competition and very mindful of allowing new practitioners in the trade, as well as the need for exposure and opportunity to previously disadvantaged Namibians who have the experience but not possess the 10 years experience in the trade.

Additionally, I would like to condemn those that authored and are furthering this racial agenda with all contempt it deserve. I would further like to ask the government not to support the squared fields which continue to perpetuate the status quo and maintain the entry restriction into the sector.

Secondly, the perceived conflict of interest for those doing EIA is difficult to justify, the final evaluation of the report is based on the content and information supplied in the report. Thirdly, the perceived corruption in any process is inherent in Namibia, especially when such offices are not run by the right skin color; it is always perceived as corrupt.

The mandate at the DEA is to facilitate and administer the EIA process of reviewing and issuing environmental clearances. The interactions with proponents are limited as they are mostly deal with the EAP who submits reports to them. It is disheartening to note that when an EIA is done by a black person it is perceived as sub- standard and inadequate and does not deserve to be cleared.

It is also prejudged that a black person cannot produce a high standard EIA report. On that basis once DEA clear the report it is always perceived that the report suppose not to be cleared not because of the content but because of the person who has done it.

I am quite sure that the office of DEA maintains dialogue with the EAPAN despite its voluntary and non official status. It is my conviction that the association should be open to all Namibians and not put requirements that automatically disqualifies many Namibians to practice EIA. We can clearly say the current draft code of conduct and requirements of the association automatically places many Namibians as junior practitioner and apprentices (under study). As I am closing off, I would like to request Namibians to remember that racial discrimination will not take us anywhere, but will just bring conflicts.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy prosperous New Year

A Luta Continua! Cde. Sioni Iikela, a Namibia youth writing from Oponona, Uvudhiya Constityuency in Oshana Region


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