Fisheries letter stinks of suspicion

A letter, to certain companies signed by Fisheries and Marine Resources Executive Director Dr. Moses Maurihungirire, seeking to establish whether they have submitted an application for fishing rights is not only against the Government Gazette regulating the timeframe of the of submission of such applications but raises suspicion of smuggling in individuals who have not applied for fishing rights.

Maurihungirire, authored a letter on April 17 2020, to certain individuals who cannot be named for reasons of privacy, seeking to know whether they have submitted an application and received attestation letters in this regard.

The letter emphasised: “Subsequent to the evaluation of fishing rights applications as called for in 2018, it was noted that your company was not among the evaluated the evaluated companies. Our records do not show that you applied for rights.”

Firstly, it is not only against the Government Gazette 24 of May 2018, which states that fishing rights applications may be “made from the date of publication of this notice until 31 July 2018 at 17h00,” but seeks to provoke applications from legal entities  that have not applied.

It is strange that the Executive Director would ask individuals whether they have applied for fishing rights when that process was legally clarified in terms of the Government Gazette which compelled the Ministry to publish the names of the applicants in the local newspapers.

Could this letter be a decoy of introducing new applicants who have never applied for fishing rights?

Matter of fact, this letter is thriving to create a legal loophole and to justify why certain individuals could not be accommodated after the application of the fishing rights have ended.

This letter is creating an opportunity for Ministry officials to sneak in their friends who have not applied for fishing rights before the process ended on May 24 2018. The letters in earnest create scope for more questions. These questions range from why these companies who got letters were chosen or even found? Further questions are raised on the criteria that was used to only seek clarity from a handful of non-applicants of fishing rights while not broadening the same priviledge to the rest of the 2.4 million Namibians who have a right to access the country’s fishing and marine resources.

The behavior of the Executive Director is not in the spirit of the trust bestowed on the new leadership at the troubled Ministry which is still recovering from the dented image it has suffered from the Fishrot scandal.

If indeed there is wrongdoing here on the part of the top official at the Fisheries Ministry, it is disheartening when custodians of public resources betray the trust bestowed on them by President Hage Geingob whose ultimate goal is to wipe out corruption that has been eating away at the moral fabric of our society.