Fundraising starts for Naankuse action against ministry

Legal action to cost N$3.5m
The foundation wants to take government to task over laws governing animal welfare in the country.
Ellanie Smit
Planned legal action by the Naankuse Foundation against the environment ministry is estimated to cost US$200 000 (N$3.5 million at Friday's exchange rate). The foundation wants to take government to task over laws governing animal welfare in the country.

It has therefore resolved to raise funds, with an animal welfare legislation campaign fundraising event set to take place in Brühl, Germany, on 16 and 17 September.

Executive director of the foundation, Marlice van Vuuren, will be in Europe on a Namibia Tourism Board roadshow, and while she is there, she will be the guest speaker at the fundraising event.

Her husband, Dr Rudie van Vuuren – who is the CEO of the Naankuse group of companies - said their action is based on seeking clarity from the court on certain aspects of the current legislation.

He said the Animal Protection Act 71 of 1962 (APA) is Namibia’s primary animal welfare legislation and its objective is the prevention of cruelty to animals.

“Animal cruelty can take many different forms. It includes acts of violence towards animals and animal neglect, or the failure to provide for the welfare of an animal under one’s control.”

He added that, in addition, animal cruelty is not restricted to physical harm.

“Causing animals psychological harm in the form of distress, torment or terror may also constitute animal cruelty.”

Neglected

Van Vuuren said according to the APA, every person who fails to act and thereby causes suffering to an animal is guilty of an offence.

“Worded differently, every person has an obligation to assist an animal in distress. Unfortunately, the enforcement of the APA is being neglected.”

He said the Nature Conservation Ordinance, 4 of 1975 is an example of pre-independence legislation applied and enforced in Namibia.

“Unfortunately, the Ordinance and its regulations contain various provisions which are in conflict with the Namibian Constitution. In addition, the interpretation which the ministry affords to certain provisions in the Ordinance and regulations creates conflict between the provisions of the Ordinance and regulations on the one hand, and the APA on the other.”

He said the Ordinance further does not provide for the protection of rights and freedoms that one would expect to find within the laws of a constitutional democracy.

“The Ordinance is an outdated piece of legislation. One pertinent example of how the Ordinance fails in our constitutional values is that the Ordinance does not make provision for fair and reasonable administrative action. The Ordinance provides that you need not give reasons for an administrative decision to decline an application. This is in clear conflict with the provisions of Article 18 of the constitution and has been declared unconstitutional before, to my knowledge.”

Civil society’s role

The Ordinance further fails to recognise the role civil society has in conservation in Namibia, Van Vuuren said.

“The Ordinance in its current form does not recognise the vital role of private conservation entities in the long-term conservation efforts in Namibia.”

According to him, the current implementation of the Ordinance further leads to a situation where people who attempt to comply with their statutory duty in terms of the APA face the potential of criminal prosecution in terms of the Ordinance.

“This uncertainty is to the detriment of animals and to Namibia as a whole.”

He added that they have started their fundraising efforts and any support will be much appreciated.

“We are awaiting the final documents from our advocates and lawyers and then will submit them.”