Breakaway rumours from CITES surface again

Adolf Kaure
Windhoek • Ellanie Smit

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) ministers responsible for environment, natural resources and tourism have approved an Advisory Paper on Management and Disposal of Stockpiles of Valuable Wildlife Products and Trade Options beyond the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) regime.

The ministers held a virtual meeting on 18 June to review progress in the implementation of sectoral programmes, strategies and projects under the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030.

The joint meeting was attended by ministers and their representatives from Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The Namibian environment ministry’s spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said the country supports the decisions taken at the SADC meeting.

“Namibia is currently waiting for the formal communication of the decisions taken at this meeting from the SADC chair or secretariat. For this reason, we are currently in no position to further comment on the consideration to break away from CITES to establish a parallel trade institution.”

News 24 reported that Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia and Botswana are considering breaking away from CITES to set up a parallel organisation to allow trade in ivory.

The four countries apparently met to look at alternate strategies.

"We discussed the possible establishment of something like the Kimberley Process," he said. "The idea is for checks and balances and for that people to operate within the correct parameters,” it quoted Mangaliso Ndlovu, Zimbabwe’s environment and tourism minister, as saying.

Namibia’s environment minister Pohamba Shifeta has previously expressed his frustration and disappointment with CITES.

He previously said there is a limit to how much external influence Namibia will accept over the use of its natural resources, specifically elephants.

He said the value Namibia can generate from trade in ivory is being severely compromised by the actions of animal rights groups who have influenced decisions at CITES that undermine Namibia’s conservation programmes.

In March, Shifeta said Namibia currently has an ivory stockpile of over N$1 billion, which in his view poses a serious security threat to the country.