SPYLs Nekongo condemns cutting and transportation of wood

Robert Maseka

WINDHOEK, MAR 3 – Swapo Party Youth League’s Ephraim Nekongo has become the latest figure to unleash his wrath at the debacle surrounding tree-cutting, sale and exportation of the invaluable resource from the country. Nekongo, the current secretary of SPYL, classified the latest trend as ugly and dangerous to the environment of the country, and further demanded that the permit that has allowed transportation of wood be immediately stopped.

“This must stop with immediate effect, if they (Chinese businessmen) want let them invest in a factory to add value here home, and create employment for our people,” said the politician.

Day and night, Rosewood trees are hauled from the Kavango regions off to Asian markets through the Walvis Bay harbour

A Chinese syndicate is believed to be reaping the benefits from an uncontrolled trade of that involves the globally endangered Rosewood trees.

Nekongo further warned that the current trading conditions were in direct contrast to the interests of the country’s development.

“This is in not in the interest of our people,” he added on his Facebook page.

Neighboring countries Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have banned the cutting of their ancient trees to protect trade and environment.

The new laws in these countries presumably altered the coordinates of exploitation, supposedly steering a Chinese syndicate to Namibia in order to uphold its interests in the wood industry. As it lurks in the shadows, locals have voiced concern over how the syndicate operates, let alone manages to conduct its business in the absence of controlled mechanisms that can even the playing field, while communal farmers continue to sell in the face of adversity and trying to make ends meet.

That alone guarantees the farmers income, despite the huge disparity between their selling price of wood and the ultimate purchase price of the resource overseas.

Speculation is rife that Namibian government officials have not taken enough steps to tackle the situation, as locals bear witness to trucks hauling wood day and night to Walvis Bay harbour; with loads of Rosewood coming from the Kavango regions a regular fixture in the haulage manifest.

Meanwhile, Friday’s edition of the local newspaper The Namibian implicated some Governors officials including Members of Parliament, as individuals who were set to benefit from a ‘Scramble for forests.’

Prices range from N$ 250 to N$ 600 for a single Rosewood tree, which in turn stands to fetch over N$ 70 000 when it reaches it’s final destination in Asian markets. Some communal farmers have further voiced their concerns as to why they are not allowed to directly export to China – for example – themselves, rather than through third parties.

Social media is abundant with questions, suggestions and comments as expected, as some citizens were seeking some support from the public in the form of signatures, in order to petition the government this week to stop the cutting and transportation of wood using loopholes of the law.

Although the two ministers of Environment and Agriculture maintain conflicting public stances on the matter, the Namibian Government has not yet officially pronounced itself on the matter yet.

Robert Maseka