Publicise fishing rights beneficiaries

THE continued delay in the announcement and publication of those that were awarded fishing rights and quotas goes against the spirit of transparency and the need to cleanse a sector still reeling from the ills of the Fishrot saga.

It’s been months now since fisheries minister, Albert Kawana went on live TV to announce that 104 new applicants had been awarded fishing rights and at least 80 old holders had been retained owing to the job creation potential and investments that they had already made in the sector over the past years.

While this may be so, the delay appears to be doing more harm than good.

Already, there has been an allegation that those who benefitted are the same individuals who have been benefitting from the past, casting doubt on the authenticity of a narrative that highlights benefit to new players.

Apart from this, allegations of conflict of interest involving those who are linked to the fisheries ministry and government fishing agencies have emerged, further strengthening  the need for responsible authorities to tell us in full, who those awarded are.

Confidente has already reported that a former Fishcor executive committee member has been awarded 200MT of a freezer quota worth a million Namibian dollars.

Indeed, we are uncertain of the extent of this problem in which highly ranked public officials exerted their influence to obtain quotas but a more transparent approach by responsible authorities would go a long way in restoring some confidence in the highly tarnished web of fishing rights and quotas.

By his own admission a couple of months ago, Kawana pledged to do things differently.

He pledged to inform Namibians of developments in the processes around fishing rights and quotas and to make the usually masked process more transparent. His muted response therefore, betrays this pledge, seeds more rumour mongering and sets back the agenda to clean the Fishrot mess.

There is no denying that transparency in governance is a key enabler which has to be treated with outmost importance.

The social contract between government and citizens compels timely transparency from the former, as the only catalyst for trust within the broader context of our society.

It is under this pretext that we urge our responsible authorities to unmask the names of those that stand to benefit from our illustrious fishing resources.

Allow us, in the spirit of democracy to scrutinise these beneficiaries and be satisfied that a fair bidding process was carried out and that for the first time in nearly three decades, Namibians will optimally enjoy the benefits of its own fishing and marine resources.