The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has denied claims by the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) that Etosha Pan is up for sale.
During a press conference on Monday the NUNW secretary general Job Muniaro alleged that some people are busy “passively selling this big game park that belongs to Namibians – please this process must stop immediately.”
He said workers at all the national parks and lodges countrywide must guard against the sale that “would deprive Namibians of their own country’s recreational facilities”.
“Park prices are already high and only the rich can visit and see the beauty of our country. All Namibians must stand up and condemn this auctioning of Namibia,” Muniaro said.
However, the environment and tourism ministry spokesperson, Romeo Muyunda, said the allegations are devoid of any truth and misleading the nation.
“As a country we cannot compromise our achievements in conservation as this will not only impact on the economy of the country but also take away income-generating activities from our communities,” he stated in a media release.
He said the utterances should not go unchallenged and therefore called upon those making the allegations to desist as such false claims have the potential to destabilise the country.
“The pan is a part of the Etosha National Park and not a standalone park. The Etosha National Park is run by the state. This makes it impossible for any individual or organisation to sell any part of the park, no matter who they are. Namibia has procedures as per our Treasury in regard to procuring and selling government properties,” he noted.
Further, he said, the ministry would like to put on record that the government has no intention whatsoever, now or in the future, to sell any part of Etosha National Park or any park in Namibia for that matter.
He said those areas are meant for conservation of Namibia’s biodiversity, and the Etosha National Park in particular is the country’s flagship park and home to thousands of plants and animals.
Namibia’ tourism sector which is based on wildlife, landscape and cultures is the third largest contributor to the national gross domestic product.
According to the Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4), Namibia aspires to become the number one tourist destination in sub-Saharan Africa by 2017 and, the ministry says, national parks are expected to contribute significantly to the objective.
Etosha Pan is a vast, bare, open shimmering green and white area that covers around 4 800 square kilometres and is almost a quarter of the entire Etosha National Park.
On the park fees, Muyunda said the entry fees are among the lowest in the southern African region. He said that for Etosha National Park, Namibians only pay N$30, while SADC visitors fork out N$60 and all other foreigners pay N$80.