Divundu, Aug. 15 — Chief Erwin Munika Mbambo of the Hambukushu community has sounded a clarion call for the repeal of the archaic and colonial-era Nature Conservation Ordinance of 1975. In a bold move, he asserted that the antiquated law fails to tackle modern challenges tied to the stewardship of precious natural resources.
Chief Mbambo’s impassioned plea resounded during a pivotal session with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources. Currently embarking on a series of public hearings on the pressing issue of human-wildlife conflict, the Committee has journeyed from the Zambezi region to the Kavango East and West regions. The mandate of these hearings was ignited by the recent presentation of a Motion on human-wildlife conflict in the National Assembly, which was subsequently referred to the Committee for in-depth deliberations.
Drawing on his community’s historical involvement in consultations over the human-wildlife conflict, Chief Mbambo lamented the stagnation of the legislation addressing this crucial issue. He astutely pointed out that even the 2018–2027 Revised National Policy on Human Wildlife Conflict Management suffered from a dearth of consultations, leading to its ineffectiveness in grappling with the multifaceted challenges entwined with the human–wildlife conflict.
To fill this legislative void, Chief Mbambo fervently advocated for the passage of the long-discussed Wildlife and Protected Areas Management Bill, an ambitious framework aimed at supplanting the outdated Conservation Ordinance of 1975. This bill is poised to address an array of inadequacies in the realm of resource management, presenting a formidable solution to the persisting challenges.
However, Chief Mbambo’s fervour wasn’t confined to legislative matters alone. He questioned Namibia’s submission to international pressures regarding the management of its own natural resources, asserting that such outside influence often lacked a nuanced understanding of the intricate social dynamics and local realities of African communities. These external pressures primarily channelled through organizations like the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), have resulted in the counterintuitive reduction of hunting quotas allocated to conservancies for certain species, despite their burgeoning populations.
Eloquently, Chief Mbambo criticized the sidelining of traditional authorities by the government in matters of resource management. He posed a thought-provoking question: “Should we shape our natural resource policies to satisfy foreign interests at the expense of our own people?” He invoked a sense of nostalgia, reminiscing about a bygone era when the government and traditional authorities collaborated harmoniously. Regrettably, the current scenario necessitates seeking permission to harness their own natural endowments, a reality that rankled Chief Mbambo deeply.
Situated adjacent to the Bwabwata and Mahongo National Parks, the Hambukushu community aired their concerns about the escalating instances of human-wildlife conflict. Their consternation was further compounded by the perceived tardiness of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism in responding to such cases and compensating the affected parties. A pragmatic policy proposition was also put forth, advocating for the regulated culling of problem animals as a proactive measure to curtail population surges.
Chief Mbambo’s impassioned appeal marks a pivotal moment in Namibia’s approach to conservation and resource management. With a resounding call for the repeal of an outdated law and a sincere plea for a more community-centric, informed approach to managing precious natural resources, his stance has ignited a fervent discussion that transcends regional boundaries.