Namibia
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Lack of decision, funds keeps redline in place

The lack of a formal decision by the government to construct a fence between Angola and Namibia and funding are hampering the government’s 12-year plan to remove the veterinary cordon fence (redline).

In the preliminary report on the progress of the second land conference in 2018, the government says the redline, which splits Namibia into two farming zones, will be removed in 12 years’ time, but their plan has shortcomings.

The redline is a pre-independence mechanism meant to prevent the spread of animal diseases from Namibia’s northern communal areas (NCAs) to foot-and-mouth disease-free areas south of the fence.

The report details the progress the government has made on the implementation of the resolutions of the second national land conference between October 2018 and May this year.

“The implementation of this resolution is hampered by the lack of a formal decision on the continuation of the construction of the veterinary cordon fence and sufficient funding,” the report reads.

Last month, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform spokesperson Jona Musheko confirmed the preliminary report, which was released in July.

The report stated that the border needs to be determined through internal consul-tations between the agriculture ministry

and the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs.
Omusati governor Erginus Endjala yesterday said the redline hampers the agricultural capacity the north could have access to.

\“I’m fully in support of the removal of the redline in line with ministry guidelines, because that would allow the unlocking of agricultural potential outside of the NCAs, including full operational abattoirs, quality enhancement, increased fruit and vegetable production and supply to the Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency (Amta) for the procurement of the government and other institutions,” he said.

Amta facilitates the trading and marketing of fresh produce in the country.

Endjala said the quality factor is often used against the regions north of the redline.

“At present it has been used to discriminate against produce from the northern communal areas. It’s understandable that the area is used for animal disease control, but for fair play we can create buffer zones to control diseases,” he said.

Endjala suggested that the government, in the meantime, strengthen feedlots and quarantine areas to better control animal diseases.

State-owned Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) says slow operations in the NCAs have an impact on their business sustainability.

The redline limits the meat products that could be sent to markets.

“No offal can be sent through the markets south of the veterinary cordon fence.

Calle Schlettwein

“Even the established market in Africa that requires offal and bone-in products cannot be transported in transit through the south of the veterinary cordon fence to the next port for shipping to that country,” Meatco says.
The corporation wants a second free zone in Namibia’s NCAs.

“ . . . opening lucrative markets for Namibian farmers of NCAs to have access to markets that would enable them to receive similar prices to their counterparts south of the redline,” Meatco says.

The corporation also suggests beef market promotion schemes.

“The government should also introduce an equalising scheme to allow markets that are not able to regulate themselves to open for products in the NCAs,” Meatco says.

Agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein has previously said the removal of the redline would result in Namibia losing its status as a country with a zone free of foot-and-mouth disease without practising vaccination.

“ . . . with devastating consequences for the Namibian meat-producing industry, in particular, and the Namibian economy as a whole,” he has said.

Schlettwein said removing the fence could be catastrophic to the entire beef industry in the country, which is estimated to be valued at more than N$7 billion per year.

However, he recently admitted that the redline is an ugly remnant of the colonial divide-and-rule strategy, which must be addressed.

MONEY AFFAIR

The report says the agriculture ministry budgeted about N$15 million for the construction of a border fence between Namibia and Angola along with the maintenance of the redline and other international border fences.

The other fences include Botswana and Namibia.

“However, part of the proposed budget is planned to be used for demining and the reaffirmation of the border. The directorate of veterinary services’ fencing teams and temporary workers are busy repairing the redline,” the report reads.

The current government budget books indicate that N$13 million has been set aside for the next three financial years.

It shows that the main aim is to construct a fence between the Namibian and Angolan border to protect and maintain animal health status and other related industries.

The project would also maintain an internal veterinary cordon fence.

The government says it has been trying to nullify the effects of the redline’s restrictions.

Windhoek councillor Job Amupanda filed a lawsuit in 2021 asking the court to declare that the redline was not erected in terms of any law and is unconstitutional.

He wanted the court to direct the government and the agriculture minister to remove the fence.

In addition to that, he was asking the court to order that agriculture ministry officials may not confiscate red meat transported from northern Namibia across the redline for private and own consumption, and to declare that the confiscation of meat from himself on 17 May last year was unlawful and unconstitutional.

The government has indicated it would oppose the case, which is yet to be heard.