“Interesting development” in phosphate saga

The decision by the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, to set aside the Environmental Clearance Certificate granted to Namibia Marine Phosphate on Wednesday this week, did not come as a surprise. Instead “it is an interesting development,” said Matti Amuka, Chairperson of the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations to namib times.

Shifeta made the announcement only weeks after initially defending the Environmental Commissioner’s decision when he granted an Environment Clearance to Namibia Marine Phosphate (NMP).
The commissioner thereby paved the way for the raw material to be mined from the seabed off the coast off Walvis Bay.
“On the basis of Art. 95 (I) and public good, I make the following orders in terms of section 50 (4) of the Act: That the certificate granted to Namibia Marine phosphate on 5 September 2016 by the Commissioner is set aside,” Shifeta announced. He furthermore ordered that the Environ-mental Commissioner notify the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, the fishing industry and all other interested parties to finalise their inputs in the report within three months and that the whole process of consultation be completed within six months starting from 2 November 2016.
“The decision is not really unexpected,” Amukwa said. Even though he described it as favourable, the Confederation is still going to court, having hired prominent lawyer Sisa Namandje. “There are too many unanswered questions. Our papers are still in court, but I do not want to reveal too much now,” he said. Amukwa did state that the Ministry of Environment and Tourism did not do the right thing when it issued the clearance due to these various questions. “Only when the court decides in our favour can we rest,” he said.
According to Shifeta he made the decision after an appeal was lodged by an independent community activist. This activist, identified as Michael Gaweseb, made the appeal in terms of the Environmental Management Act. According to the Minister it was not the duty of the Environmental Commissioner, Teofilus Nghitila, to inform the public on his decision when he issued the clearance.
The issuance of the Environmental Clearance early in September this year sparked an immense public outcry and also divided various ministries. President Hage Geingob ordered a special cabinet meeting to be held on Monday (7 November) where this issue will be discussed.

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