Swapo stalwart and former Cabinet minister Helmut Angula has denounced ruling party parliamentarians over rejecting a private member’s bill which aimed to remove the so-called Fishrot amendments from the Marine Resources Act.
Former marine resources minister Bernhard Esau, along with former minister of justice Sacky Shanghala, were involved in the amendment of the act in 2015 to validate giving horse mackerel quotas to the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) under the guise of governmental objectives.
This has enabled the Fishrot corruption saga for which they and others are currently facing trial.
The amendment states: “The state is entitled to utilise or harvest marine resources to advance any social-economic, cultural or other governmental objective in the public interest, through an entity or person designated by the minister, on direction from the Cabinet.”
This was meant to redress the power vested in the minister of fisheries and marine resources in the allocation of fishing quotas.
“There is no need for the minister to retain such powers, especially considering the manner in which it was used,” Angula says.
“I don’t know what would be the motive to defend such power – especially when vested in the minister. It is a bad reflection on us as a party.
“It seems we are not against what happened. That will be the interpretation of the people on the street,” he says.
Angula says in the past, the bills that were rejected were political.
“This is not a political bill. It is a motion to protect the interest of the country and the majority, which is being abused by the said clause,” he says.
Angula calls on Swapo to tell the nation what the party has objected to in order to clear the perception that the objection was to facilitate corruption.
“The government should also tell the people how these clauses would be used in the future to avoid them being abused for gratification. This would restore the confidence and trust of the masses,” he says.
Popular Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani’s bill aimed to focus on the amendments to the act pushed through by Esau, giving himself the sole discretionary authority to allocate fishing quotas as he wished.
“The aim of this private member’s bill is to limit the discretionary authority vested in the minister of fisheries and marine resources with respect to the allocation of quotas for non-commercial harvesting or reserve purposes.
“Specifically, the bill seeks to ensure that such allocations are made in strict adherence to the criteria and considerations outlined in sections 32 and 33 of the Marine Resources Act,” Venaani told members of the National Assembly this week.
Parliament, the majority of which are from Swapo, rejected the bill with a vote of 47 members against 22.
JUMPED THE GUN
Meanwhile, Swapo chief whip in the National Assembly Hambyuka Hamunyera has defended the party’s position.
“I can confirm that the bill was rejected, based on the fact that before tabling the motion the PDM went and spoke to the minister of fisheries and marine resources.
“The idea was to work on the loopholes and possible amendments with the ministry. Instead of waiting on the minister, they went ahead and brought the bills,” he says.
“The other is that after we dealt with Jerry’s private member’s bill, we will realise there are a lot of factors that need to be considered.
“We realised that what we were doing is not correct and decided we ought to advise each other on what should happen in order to follow a constitutional approach,” Hamunyera says.
“They jumped the gun,” he says.
Hamunyera says the parliament should first seek the nation’s view.
“I do not want to comment on what Angula said. We are following the procedures of parliament. When you object, you just object without explanation. The minister will explain later,” he says.
Source : Namibian