By Victor Angula|

The Ombudsman of Namibia Adv. Basilius Dyakugha had to scratch his head in sober reflection as he couldn’t explain the need for him to wade into the conflict between the Ministry of Environment and the traditional authorities over the Bwabwata National Park.

Dyakugha, who himself hails from one of the two Kavango regions, got sucked into the conflict between traditional authorities in Kavango East and the Government over the management of Bwabwata National Park.

The Ombudsman, in a media statement dated 10 March 2022, criticized the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, by saying that his Office had been “following the development of human and wildlife conflict in Namibia, particularly in the north-eastern regions.

“Secondly, the dissatisfaction of the community who live in or near the Bwabwata National Game Park. I suspect this is happening because of misinformation or a lack of information from the line Ministry, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism,” said the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman went on by stating that the Ministry of Environment was “mostly concentrating on paper or theory conservation which is based on tertiary education, while ignoring the needs of human beings who live in those areas.”

Adv. Dyakugha further said that the Ministry “must be creative and innovative by supporting and encouraging the community to live with wildlife.”

In response the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism released a statement, dated 20 March 2022, in which the Ministry criticized the Ombudsman for releasing a statement without having first consulted with the Ministry on the issue.

“For the Ombudsman to say that the Ministry does not take the interest of the community seriously or refusing to have meaningful dialogue with the communities in and around Bwabwata is totally misleading and there is no truth in it,” the Ministry’s spokesperson Mr Romeo Muyunda said in the statement.

When Omutumwa asked for the Ombudsman to explain the need for him to enter the fray in an issue between the Ministry of Environment and the local communities who live in and around Bwabwata, Adv Dyakugha was unable to provide a clear explanation, but his personal assistant Mr Titus Mupo responded through email by giving a generalised response.

“The Mandate of the Ombudsman of Namibia is clearly stated in article 91 of the Namibian Constitution, and when I want to summarise it, the Ombudsman’s mandate falls into 3 categories namely; Maladministration, Human Rights, and protection of environment and natural resources,” Mupo said.

“Only people who studied law and international law understand and appreciate the fact that even though there are various categories of human rights; such as political and civil rights, which are so called red rights, and economic, social and cultural rights, which are so called blue rights, and lastly the environmental rights, which is the so called green rights in terms of academic theoretic teaching.

“At the UN level and international humanitarian law, there is a consensus agreement that human beings will not enjoy civil and political rights fully without the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights including the rights to clean environment. In other words, enjoyment of rights are interdependent and it cannot be separated.

“The Ombudsman made a clear statement which addressed the issue of human wildlife conflict, if you or anyone cannot see concern of the Ombudsman regarding the issue of human rights in the statement, then we suggest you should read it again.

“Because when crocodiles kill people who go to fetch water, and when wild animals like elephants and buffalos destroys the crops of the people in this country, and yet you or anyone else cannot see any human rights issue with those incidence, then perhaps, you should familiarise yourself with the mandates of the Ombudsman which is to see to it that the Government of Namibia should look after the well-being of the people of Namibia.”

Office of the Ombudsman’s Public Relations Officer Ms Aurelia David couldn’t provide a clear response either. “Whether the Ombudsman went to Bwabwata or he didn’t go, and I tell you that, so what?” David said.

In the photo: The Ombudsman Adv. Basilius Dyakugha.