Namibian CSOs welcome ReconAfrica investigation

16 September 2021 | Environment

Namibian civil society organisations (CSOs) welcomed today’s announcement of a possible investigation of ReconAfrica by the Canadian TSX Venture Exchange and other Canadian regulators regarding the company’s operations in Namibia.
CSOs from Canada and the USA have submitted a request to the TSX Venture Exchange (TSX-V) to investigate potential misrepresentations in the disclosures and public communications of Canadian oil and gas company Reconnaissance Energy Africa Ltd. (ReconAfrica).
In a media release it was said that this new request for an investigation comes on top of the filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the British Colombia Securities Commission and the investigation opened by the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) earlier this year.
According to Rinaani Musutua of the Economic & Social Justice Trust, another investigation into ReconAfrica’s promises is looming. “We’ve always been very sceptical with regards to their job figures and economic perspectives for Namibia. It’s time for our officials to recognise that Namibia’s true future prosperity cannot be found in past-orientated fossil fuel extraction and financial speculation.”
“ReconAfrica has never really consulted the impacted communities and operates in Namibia with unlined pits to store highly toxic wastewater that might eventually leak into precious groundwater,” adds Max Muyemburuko, chairperson of Kavango East and West Regional Conservancy and Community Forestry Association. “A proper investigation into the company’s disclosures and statements might mine other irregularities to the surface.”

‘No consultation’
Kileni Fernando, coordinator of the Namibia San Council, stated that “according to Article 32(2) of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources. The Khwe people in the Kavango regions have not been consulted on the possible adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural and spiritual impacts of fossil fuel production in an open, transparent and inclusive process, neither by ReconAfrica nor by our government, and they have not given consent to the extraction of oil and gas on their lands.”
Dr Chris Brown, CEO of the Namibian Environmental Chamber added: “The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) also recently voted in favour of a motion to protect the Okavango from all oil and gas exploitation – including in particular Recon’s plans.
The importance of this area is reflected in its status as a World Heritage site, Ramsar wetland site of international importance, and as part of a five nation KAZA transboundary treaty area for the development of a green and sustainable economy. It is really time to pay attention and respect IUCN’s and UNESCO’s decisions and conduct a comprehensive environmental impact assessment that adheres to best international practice and standards.”
“The Canadian investigation confirms the importance of our strong and enduring resistance in Namibia,” adds Nadia April of the Women’s Leadership Centre. “Together with over 120 Namibian CSOs we call on government to suspend all oil and gas drilling and exploration in the Kavango East and West regions and establish an independent and impartial Public Commission of Inquiry to critically examine the situation in the light of the social, ecological and climate implications, including the impact on women’s health and human rights. Many studies in North America provide evidence of the dangers to women’s and children’s health linked to fracking, as well as the sexual exploitation of women and girls by mine workers.”