Communication failure threatens rock art

15 February 2021 | Environment

Windhoek • [email protected]

The environment ministry denies any knowledge of a resolution to withdraw the environmental clearance certificates (ECC) issued to mining companies accused of the annihilation of prehistoric rock art in the Erongo region.
“The ministry is not aware of the decision. Maybe that is the intention of the National Heritage Council of Namibia,” ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said on Friday. He said that an ECC can only be withdrawn “if all the impact cannot be mitigated. This process must be initiated by the concerned party to the environment commissioner who will assess whether or not the concerns warrant a withdrawal.”
During a stakeholders meeting with the Otjohorongo community this past weekend, the National Heritage Council (NHC) confirmed that a joint stakeholders meeting held in November 2020 resolved for the “ministry of environment, tourism and forestry [to] withdraw all ECCs at both sites and thereafter engage the affected parties in those areas”.
The sites include the Otjohorongo granite hills and Farm Gross Okandjou.
Moreover, that these archaeological sites “should be classified and demarcated as a ‘withdrawn areas’ from prospecting and mining licenses”.
The NHC said the resolutions included the decision that all mining activities should “cease in conjunction with the commencement of the rehabilitation process at both sites”.

A team that investigated the impact of mining at Otjohorongo granite hills and Farm Gross Okandjou last year found that archaeological resources in these areas had “already been destroyed in the course of mining. Such damage is irreversible, which translates to permanent loss of archaeological resources.”
The basis for the withdrawal of the ECCs is centred not only on the destruction of archaeological heritage resources, but also on incomplete environmental impact assessments.
The team found that the ECCs were issued on assessments that failed to assess the potential impact of mining on heritage components, as required by law.
In response, Muyunda confirmed that “this in one area that requires to be strengthened in the overall process of issuing EIAs”. He added however that the withdrawal of an ECC “is usually the last resort. For now, companies are required to comply to the conditions imposed by the National Heritage Council of Namibia in regards to the protection of these sites.”

The assessment on the impact of large-scale granite and marble mining activities found that there had already been cases of “outright destruction” of the prehistoric art in the areas. Both sites were deemed important archaeological sites with local, regional and global importance.
Muyunda last week confirmed that “where ECC’s were issued, any malicious observations must be reported to the office of the environmental commissioner or relevant stakeholder”.
The NHC last year confirmed that the environment ministry, the mines and energy ministry and the council held joint meetings to discuss the destruction of prehistoric art by mining activities in February and November.

Community activist Abiud Karongee expressed concern about the contradicting information given by authorities, while praising the NHC for their proactive stance to assist the community in having the area declared a no-go zone for mining, and to designate them as protected areas.
The community however say the battle is not yet won.
Karongee said reports have been made that mining is ongoing at some sites. “Trucks are going in and out, they are at full steam. No one has really been officially informed. Only the environment ministry can act.”
He said the community is waiting for an official document declaring the area a no-go zone. “We are waiting for the area to be put under protection officially. So, while we wait for the environment ministry to act, we can assist to help monitor and stop any unethical and illegal activities within these protected areas. We need documents however, otherwise, we can’t do anything.”

Karongee said the community meeting was an important opportunity to broaden awareness of the benefits of preserving the heritage resources. “The NHC highlighted the significance of all those paintings. They are of national and global importance. This will help people recognise that they are sitting on this valuable heritage resource, that has long-term benefits for all of us. The community is becoming enthusiastic, and realise there are other types of activities that can result from preserving these sites.”
He added that the community activists will work together with the NHC towards having the granite hills declared a national heritage site. “We are saying let this place be protected. Let the mining operations be stopped right away.”
There are hopes that the Otjohorongo granite hills could equal the important prehistoric rock art at Twyfelfontein and Brandberg, both under protection and recognised globally of significant archaeological importance.

Similar News


CBD says goodbye to old trees

1 week ago - 05 May 2021 | Environment

Windhoek • [email protected] capital’s central business district will hopefully turn over a new leaf with the planting of saplings in the Zoo Park.About two months...

Another demo against oil production

2 weeks ago - 26 April 2021 | Environment

Windhoek • Steffi BalzarThe organisation Fridays for Future demonstrated in the capital on Friday against the planned oil production by the Canadian company ReconAfrica in...

Moet geliefs nie gryswater in jou tuin gebruik nie

3 weeks ago - 20 April 2021 | Environment

Dink twee keer voordat jy jou tuin natlei met die gryswater afkomstig van jou wasmasjien: Dis nie goed vir die einste grond waarin plante moet...

Youth climate activists urge president to save Okavango Delta

1 month - 29 March 2021 | Environment

To date, nearly 150 000 people have signed a petition by Rainforest Rescue supporting their mission to save the Okavango Delta.Now, Fridays For Future Windhoek...

Community recycling initiative launched

1 month - 15 March 2021 | Environment

The Recycle Namibia Forum (RNF) announced the launch of its very first Community Recycling Project in celebration of Global Recycling Day on 18 March.The project...

Win with water!

2 months ago - 12 March 2021 | Environment

The Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWPSA) is running a photo contest specifically aimed at youth in Southern Africa in honour of World Water Day...

Shifeta irked by CITES

2 months ago - 12 March 2021 | Environment

Environment, forestry and tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta is disappointed by the “arrogant” modus operandi of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild...

Underwater cultural heritage in the spotlight

2 months ago - 11 March 2021 | Environment

A regional meeting on the protection of underwater cultural heritage in Africa is currently underway in Windhoek.The two-day virtual meeting, which began on Wednesday, is...

Communities at risk

2 months ago - 11 March 2021 | Environment

The Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism is intensifying its efforts to address the current increasing devastating human-wildlife conflict incidents in some parts of the...

Going green this Commonwealth Day

2 months ago - 09 March 2021 | Environment

Speaker of the National Assembly, Peter Katjavivi said Commonwealth High Commissioners in Namibia are expected to plant trees in remembrance of Commonwealth Day.Katjavivi said this...

Latest News

New owners for iconic Safari...

1 day - 12 May 2021 | Tourism

Funds advised by Kasada Capital Management today announced the acquisition of the 414-key Safari Hotels and Conference Centre in Windhoek. This transaction will be made...

Chill with Windhoek Express

1 day - 12 May 2021 | Art and Entertainment

Recurring events• 07:00 Bio-Markt / Green Market at the Stephanus Church (Dr Kenneth Kaunda Street) in Windhoek until 12:00.• 08:30 The weekly Inspire Market features...

Government in catch 22 on...

1 day - 12 May 2021 | Local News

While acknowledging that the majority of Namibians rely on the national broadcaster for information, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila conceded that government cannot meet its employees’...

Murorua takes over BAN reigns

1 day - 12 May 2021 | Banking

The Bankers Association of Namibia (BAN) announced that Nedbank chief executive Martha Murorua has taken over the reigns as chair from Ester Kali, CEO of...

Bowling on a roll

1 day - 12 May 2021 | Sports

Namibia Bowling Association (NBA) president Michael Wells has expressed his pleasure at the improved performance of players at the recently held Namibia National Bowling Championships.The...

Virtual international training for local...

1 day - 12 May 2021 | Sports

Eight Namibian soccer coaches will take part in an international instructor’s course organised by the German Football Federation and Botswana Football Association to help improve...

Old Mutual under ‘10 strongest...

1 day - 12 May 2021 | Business

The 2021 Brand Finance report has ranked Old Mutual in the top 10 strongest brands, as well as in the top 100 most valuable insurance...

Fire safety measures every homeowner...

2 days ago - 11 May 2021 | Disasters

The recent blaze that unfolded along the Cape’s iconic Table Mountain was a reminder of the very real threat fire poses to homeowners. It is...

Conservancy feeds their own children

2 days ago - 11 May 2021 | Society

For a second consecutive year, members of the N≠a Jaqna Conservancy are using part of their income to provide food to all registered schools and...

Load More