Where is the money?

Government provide Topnaar with as much as N$70 000 per month. Yet the Topnaar still among the poorest people in the country.

Sharlien Tjambari

It is high time the traditional leadership of the Topnaars explain why these people are still drenched in poverty on the banks of the Kuiseb River, despite being the recipients of thousands of Namibian Dollar each month from the Namibian Government in the form of tourism concessions and a fishing quota.

The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, advised President Hage Geingob during a meeting last Thursday with inhabitants of Erongo that the Acting tribal head of the Topnaars, Chief Stoffel Anamab, should do some explaining. Anamab took over the role as traditional leader of the Topnaars following the death in January this year of the long-serving leader of the Topnaars, Chief Seth Kooitjie.
Minister Shifeta advised President Geingob to demand an explanation how the Topnaar’s money is spent every month after Mr. Rudolf Dausab complained about the poverty this small community finds itself perpetually. Giving account of how funds are spent should also include a detailed audit of the financials of the Topnaar Community Foundation.
According to Dausab the Topnaar people number some 2 500 individuals. They are the smallest cultural group in the country but also among the poorest.
“Our people are really suffering.” Dausab said during the meeting. Dausab appealed to the President to hear the concerns of the Topnaars, as some of the people are currently without water because they cannot afford paying for it.
“Many of us are unemployed. This causes us to be at loggerheads with parastatals such as Namwater, because we are unable to pay for the water supplied. If there is no water, then we cannot produce or feed our families”.
Dausab also explained the Topnaars cannot claim customary land rights, as the area where they live is divided into two national parks.
In his reply Minister Shifeta highlighted the fact that the Topnaars have three tourism concessions and also a lucrative fishing quota. “These altogether are worth millions. The problem is the money earned from these concessions is not going to the community”, Shifeta accused.
The Governor of Erongo, Clr Cleophas Mutjavikua added to this stating the Topnaar Traditional Authority receives between N$60 000 and N$70 000 a month.
In fact, Clr Mutjavikua explained, the Topnaar is the only traditional community in Namibia that receives such a large monthly income from Government.
“Where is the money?” Minister Shifeta again asked.

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