Concerns Over ‘Buffer Zone’

Ohangwena Regional Governor Usko Nghaamwa fears the presence of a livestock buffer zone between Namibia and Angola will disrupt social ties between northern Namibia and southern Angola.

Many people in northern Namibia have relatives in southern Angola and vice versa and many Namibians also have cattle grazing posts in Angola, while Angolans trek to Namibia to get medication and attend school.

The DTA of Namibia president McHenry Venaani urged government to speed up the process of putting up a livestock buffer zone [fence] stretching from Kunene Region up to Kavango East so that livestock north of the redline can have the same status as those south of it.

“It will not be a good move to put it up because our people living along the border and those on the Angolan side are interconnected. Our people have fields in Angola, they graze their cattle there and some have relatives there. Most of our brothers and sisters from Angola also make use of our services such as schools, clinics, water and shops,” explained Nghaamwa.

Ohangwena Region is situated along the Namibian and Angolan border and Nghaamwa admits that there is a need for proper border controls but this, he says, should not come at the cost of those living along the border.

“If you put up a fence, then there will be some people who will have to travel more than 70 or 80 kilometers to get to the nearest crossing point, this is not fair,” he said.

Specifically on the redline, Nghaamwa added: “People who live south of the redline come to the north and eat meat here but they do not fall ill. At the same time, farmers also sell their cattle to Meatco where it is processed and sent to South Africa, yet they tell us of a redline.”

Meanwhile, Meatco’s manager for corporate communications and marketing Mario Poolman says if a buffer zone is erected this will improve prices of cattle north of the redline and the meat sourced there can then be exported to lucrative overseas markets.

“If they put up the zone if we get the status right we can have improved profitability and prices but there will be social implications because people have families across the border, they graze their animals across the border,” said Poolman.

Venaani said: “The redline can be kept as a cordon fence but there is a need for a buffer zone in order to open economic activities that can grow the country because the value of animals north of the redline will go up.”

With an estimated 1.3 million cattle in the Kunene, Ohangwena, Oshana, Omusati, Oshikoto and the two Kavango regions, Venaani said there is an urgent need to improve the economic viability of cattle north of the redline to put more money in the pockets of farmers to benefit more Namibians who depend on the farmers.

“Zambezi is a different story because of the prevalence of buffaloes, but from Kunene to Kavango, if we can put up a fence, and in two or three years invite inspectors from the European Union to come and inspect the situation we can then get the green light and therefore put these cattle on the export market because we will be able to push up our quota,” Venaani said on Tuesday.

Source : New Era