UPM rallies behind Sauma
UPM president Jan van Wyk and members recently met with members of Sauma to discuss the current mining activities happening in Leonardville.
“After fruitful discussions, it has been made very clear that the danger posed by continued exploratory mining in the Stampriet Artesian Basin would be catastrophic to the underground aquifer and the Namibian residents who live and survive from the same aquifer,” the party said in a statement.
“The effects of any form of uranium exposure to the aquifer would mean that close to 80 000 Namibian citizens could potentially be affected,” Van Wyk said.
This would lead to farms being unable to produce food and homes not being supplied with drinkable water, which would be devastating for residents, he added.
“Generations to come will severely be affected by irresponsible decisions and greediness of the current generation. On a balance of scales, the mining of uranium and the few jobs it would create cannot be compared to the numerous livelihoods that would be affected if the aquifer was to be polluted by any mining activities.”
‘Abuse and exploitation’
UPM further said it agrees that the country needs jobs, but added that “losing water in an arid country like Namibia cannot and should not be allowed under any circumstances”.
Van Wyk stressed: “We as a nation cannot allow the continued abuse and exploitation by foreigners and their subsidiaries of our natural resources, and one resource specifically used to sustain life is water”.
He is of the opinion that Namibia, in most of its current foreign agreements, is continually placed second when it comes to benefitting the Namibian people.
“With all the country’s diverse natural resources, our people continue to suffer, continue to live in poverty, continue to struggle to make ends meet. And now, once again, a foreign-owned company wants to further exploit our resources for their benefit.”
According to the party, government makes meagre contributions to state coffers compared to the huge profits made by these companies, “and ultimately it is the Namibian people and our future generations who will pay the price for this reckless permission and granting of licences to these foreign-owned companies”.
According to Van Wyk, there is proof that these companies have been granted exclusive prospecting licences (EPLs) and have already drilled about 603 boreholes for testing in Leonardville, directly above the Stampriet Artesian Basin, threatening the underground water in that area.
“These mining companies should also explain why no access is granted to anyone, even a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources, to inspect the [area]. We understand there is a laboratory for testing the uranium which is heavily guarded. Is there a conspiracy that we are not aware of that the government is trying to keep secret?” Van Wyk wanted to know.
To no avail
According to Sauma management members, they have requested meetings with the ministers of agriculture, health, mines and energy, and environment, but to no avail.
“The ruling party has once again proven that the rights of others, foreign individuals et al, are above the masses that put them into power. The Swapo Party has proven once again that Namibia and her people will not be placed first on a list of priorities, but rather on the backside of poverty, of empty promises and a quick campaign,” the UPM president said.
The party further urged all Namibians to support Sauma’s initiatives by becoming members at no cost and by completing and forwarding an online petition currently circulating on social media as well as on its website.
“Only the Namibian people can take action and make a difference. We demand answers from the applicable ministries,” Van Wyk demanded.