Posts Tagged ‘German GIZ directly engaged with dispossessing indigenous peoples of their lands and territories’

Namibia: Himba, Zemba reiterate ‘no’ to Baynes dam

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

By: CATHERINE SASMAN, for the Namibian

Why does Government want to build Orokawe Dam by force? (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Why does Government want to build Orokawe Dam by force? (Photo © Earth Peoples)

STANDING THEIR GROUND … Himba and Zemba communities yesterday protested against the planned Baynes hydro-electric dam, and made a plea for Government food relief.

INDIGENOUS Himba and Zemba communities from villages in the Kunene Region held a demonstration at Opuwo yesterday to express their frustration over unrecognised chiefs, illegal fencing of parts of their land, and the implementation of the Communal Land Reform Act of 2002.
Another pressing issue they want to drive home to the powers that be is the planned construction of a hydro-electric project in the Baynes Mountains, which they say would further push them off their land.

The communities staged various demonstrations last year to express their sentiments about these issues, but they feel that they are not being heard.
Rebecca Sommer, a German researcher of the human and natural rights group Earth Peoples, told The Namibian that the groups  signed letters a week ago, one addressed to President Hifikepunye Pohamba and one denouncing a meeting that took place in Windhoek with three members of the Himba community who spent some time in Windhoek to get clarity on the Baynes dam matter.
Sommer said at the contested meeting a 22-page report was handed out that states that an open-door approach would be pursued in which the communities would be consulted to avoid resettlement.
She said the Himba leaders on 21 March held a meeting at which the document was considered, adding: “… and they are angry. They say there is no door open, they say no. Therefore they feel that they are not heard.”

Himba and Zemba Protest March 25, 2013 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Himba and Zemba Protest March 25, 2013 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

“The report falsely states that we Himba have the door open for further negotiations and that forced resettlements could be therefore avoided,” said one of the Himba chiefs, Mutambo Omuhonga, who was part of the delegation to Windhoek.
He continued: “We are outraged. We said over and over ‘no’, and we mean it. There is no negotiation from our side, and there is no consultation, because they do not hear us when we say no. That is why we protest again to show our collective objection to the planned dam construction once again. We’d rather die and throw ourselves in the river before we allow the destruction and invasion of our land. We explained all that in our declaration.”
The groups issued a declaration to the United Nations last year in which they rejected the dam project.
Yesterday’s march was also to call for drought relief from the government. The communities want the government to subsidise fodder for their livestock, and to look into improving the distribution of drought relief food.
The Himba and Zemba communities are especially hard hit by the current drought because of their remoteness and the inaccessible terrain in which they live.
The communities fear that their cattle might start dying because of the extremely dry and hot weather conditions during this rainy season. With little or no rain this year yet, the communities have also not been able to plant gardens, so they do not have any maize to sustain them.
Sommer said the Himba delegation that was in Windhoek also met with solar-energy experts and concluded from this that the planned Baynes dam “does not make sense, not for the Himba and not for Namibia “.
The Himba headmen are now reportedly going to select 10 “bright men and women” willing to learn about solar power in the capital city. The Himba have also planned a trip to Tsumkwe where they can see a large off-grid power system.

Namibia Indigenous Peoples: Himba and Zemba LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT HIFIKEPUNYE POHAMBA

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

His Excellency the President
Office of the President (OoP)
No. 1 Engelberg Street Auasblick,
Windhoek
P/Bag: 13339, Windhoek

c.c. Office of the Prime Minister (OPM)
c.c. Minister of Presidential Affairs
c.c. Advisors to H.E. the President
c.c. Political Advisor to the President
c.c. Office of the Auditor-General (OAG)
c.c. Office of the Ombudsman Head Office
c.c. Office of the Ombudsman Oshakati
c.c. Prime Minister Mr. Hage Geingob
c.c. Chairman of the National Council Mr. Asser Kuveri Kapere
c.c. Chairman of the National Assembly Mr. Theo-Ben Gurirab
c.c. Judge-President of the High Court
c.c. Ministry of Justice and Attorney General (MoJ)
c.c. Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF)
c.c. Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET
c.c. Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR)
c.c. Ministry of Health and Social Services (MHSS)
c.c. Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration
c.c. Ministry of Youth, National Services, Sport and Culture (MYNSSC)
c.c. Ministry of Education (MoE)

Opuwo, March 25, 2013

His Exellency, Mr. President Hifikepunye Pohamba,

We, the Himba and Zemba people gathered here in Opuwo are preparing for our third manifestation in Opuwo this year, because we are unhappy.

We decided to write you a letter and to reach out to you in the hope that you will hear the sorrows, fears and concerns of Himba and Zemba, and that you care for us, like a father cares for his children. We are children to the soil from Namibia. Like all Namibians, we deeply love our land, especially our Himba territory Kaoko, as well as our Zemba territory in Ruacana, to which we belong for centuries.

We also wanted to thank you, we acknowledge and appreciate that you allowed the UN Special Rapportuer on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Mr. James Anaya, to enter Namibia and to visit us. We are aware that you could have said no. It is this kind of openness that Namibia showed, that we envision for our future in our country, so that we can enter in a new era of mutual respect and understanding and dialogue. But that also means for us, in the case that we do not want a project or program to be implemented on our traditional land, that we want our collectively made decision to be heard, and to be respected.

We are and remain in distress, because we feel that we are often overlooked as well as marginalized by your Ministries and Offices. Our collective feeling of grievance is growing so much that we wish that you and your Prime Minister will invite us, the Traditional Leaders of our people, to speak with you in person.

We are Namibians, but we are also born as indigenous peoples, Himba and Zemba. We are what we are by tradition, culture and heart, and want to remain that way. Laws and policies in Namibia are more often than not against us, and interfere or even contradict with our culture, customs, traditions, our needs as well as with our aspirations. We believe that does not need to be this way. We would like to discuss our issues and suggestions with you directly.

You received our three Declarations in 2012 (Two Himba Declarations, one Zemba Declaration), in which we tried to explain in detail our unresolved and for us very serious problems as well as our needs and hopes. Unfortunately we do not feel that they have been taken into serious consideration. For your convenience we include our two Himba Declarations with this letter, as well as our Zemba Declaration. Please do not take offense, we send you our Declarations in good faith that you will take steps to address our legitimate needs a well as that they will encourage you to communicate with us directly.

One of our main concerns of the many that we Himba people do have is the dam. We do not want the dam, we never agreed to it in the past, and we won’t agree to it in the future. It would be constructed on our traditional land. We Himba live on both sides of the Kunene River. Our people in Angola do not want the dam either. Recently, we got hold of a report in Windhoek that was commissioned by one of your Ministries, but the report didn’t said the truth, but claimed that the “door would be open for further negotiations “ with us regarding the dam. We need to let you now, that the door is not open. We refuse to accept the dam.
Kindly do not try to force the dam upon us, on our beloved land and the Water. Allow it to live. Allow us to live as well. We recently learned that there are other solutions for energy, such as solar. The sun is always shining in Namibia, the sun can be used in its abundance to make energy, but the Water and the River are too precious to interfere with it.

The sun is burning the vegetation, and there is no rain in sight, the drought will make us suffer; soon our animals are going to die. The insufficient rain hindered us to plant our gardens, we have no maize. Please ensure that drought relief will reach also us Ovahimba, Ovatwa, Ovatjimba and Ovazemba living in the remotest area of your country. Please ensure that nothing get’s lost during the long way until actual relief is reaching us.

We, the Signees gathered here in Opuwo, on behalf of our communities and members that stayed behind with our animals, children and Elders urge you to grant our chosen representatives a meeting with you as soon as possible,

Respectfully yours:

Namibia: Indigenous Himba and Zemba – LETTER TO THE OMBUDSMAN JOHN ROBERT WALTERS (March 25, 2013)

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Office of the Ombudsman Head Office
Cnr of Feld and Lossen Streets
Private Bag 13211, Windhoek
Tel 061-220550 (Ombudsman)
Fax 061-226838 (Director and Investigations)

c.c. Office of the Ombudsman Oshakati
Magistrate’s Office, Main Road,
P O Box 2658
Tel 065-224638
Fax 065-224605

c.c. OHCHR
c.c. Special Rapportuer James Anaya
c.c. Earth Peoples
c.c. Namrights

OPUWO, March 25, 2013

Dear Ombudsman Mr. John Robert Walters

We, the Ovahimba, Ovatwa, Ovatjimba and Ovazemba, also known as Himba and Zemba, are gathered here in Opuwo for our third manifestation in Opuwo this year, because we are unhappy, and decided to write you a letter.

We have received information that your good Office is in communication with third concerned parties about our 2012 human rights violations Declarations, two from us Himba, one from us Zemba. But we haven’t gotten the impression that your regional office as well as your headquarters office has been available or accessible for us.

What we are envisioning from you is active and effective help to tackle our grievances and serious problems that we feel that we face in Namibia.

Some of them are dealing with legislation, others with insufficient implementation of the law, while in some cases the very policies and laws are in contradiction to our differentiated needs as well as rights that we do have as indigenous peoples.

For your convenience we include hardcopies of our two 2012 Human Rights violation complaint Declarations in this letter, as you know, both have been submitted to the United Nations and to the African Union.

We as semi-nomadic people have difficulties to travel with our communities to far distances due to money restrains and because of our livestock. Therefore we would like to ask you to come to us, and to hold several meetings in our regions and communities.

We hope to hear from you soon, best through the contact of our Councilor’s for each constituency, who would inform us and would coordinate with each other and arrange the meetings with you and us.

If that is not possible, please come back to us with other suggestions so that we will talk to each other in person.

We, the Signees gathered here in Opuwo, on behalf of our community members that stayed behind with our animals are looking forward to receive your response,

Respectfully yours