Councillors unhappy with Govt support to Fishrot-affected communities

Photo: Taati Niilenge TESTIMONIES … Walvis Bay community members attended a meeting to discuss the Fishrot corruption scandal yesterday.

Walvis Bay community members who are affected by the Fishrot corruption case yesterday attended a meeting hosted by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) at the town at which local councillors, among others, expressed their unhappiness with the government’s lack of support to communities affected by the scandal.

The meeting, which aimed to record testimonies on how the scandal has affected them, is part of a six-month project funded by the British high commission.

The collected information from the community would form the basis of legal action planned to be taken against Iceland’s largest fishing company, Samherji, of which their corrupt action has caused the Namibian fishing industry, local fishing communities and the country’s economy to suffer.

IPPR researcher Frederico Links explained the collaboration with Transparency International Iceland, a movement aiming to end the injustice of corruption, and the International Lawyers Project, an economic and environmental justice charity organisation.

The organisations are working at bringing a case against Samherji on behalf of Namibian fishermen and other affected communities.

“This has nothing to do with the case in court. Samherji is not being held accountable in Iceland. There is a need to ensure that the company pays for what it did.

“One of the things we were asked to do was to get personal stories of those who were affected to strengthen the case, which would be handled in Europe.

“We understand things may be sensitive. We are not trying to politicise this issue. We are just focusing on the case against the company,” Links said.

Walvis Bay councillors expressed their disappointment in the Namibian government, which they said are not paying attention to the community which is severely affected by the issue.

“I am ashamed to be at an event organised by the IPPR. It is supposed to firstly be organised by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, the Office of the President, and the Office of the Prime Minister.

“This is the biggest documented scandal in an independent Namibia, but is it given enough attention?

“There is no government programme to cater for the affected people. Other organisations are now here trying to see that you receive justice …

“Those who have committed atrocities must pay, but the attempt must come from the government,” Walvis Bay Rural councillor Donatus Tegako said.

Walvis Bay mayor Trevino Forbes said: “… We must fix the corruption in the industry. People used to come to this town from all over for a better life. They no longer come to prosper, but to suffer. Everybody wanted to become a fisherman. That passion is no longer there.

“You are seeking relief. It must come from the top, but first it must start with an apology to the people of Walvis Bay and the industry. Walvis Bay people need to be asked for forgiveness.”

The attempt to hold Samherji accountable started in 2020.

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