Tuesday 11 May 2021
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‘Operation Omake’ deserves no Omake

Mathias Haufiku

While other countries are focused on planting more trees to address climate change, in Namibia we are doing the total opposite, despite us claiming we want to be part and parcel of the climate change fight.
De-bushing is taking place around the country under ‘Operation Omake’ to help clear riverbeds and thin bushes as a crime prevention initiative.
Such knee-jerk reactions are indeed worse than reactionary opposition political parties who jump onto any bandwagon to gain relevancy.
Those spearheading, especially (Rtd) Major General Charles Namoloh should know better, coming from an era of war, he should know the importance of trees and bushes.
‘Operation Omake’ supporters have a lot of explanation to do, because just recently government said it will need at least N$470 billion to address climate change, while at the same time it is ignoring ongoing chopping down of trees through the campaign initiated by the Ministry of Safety and Security.
In fact, crime do not happen in riverbeds on a daily basis and the minimal criminal activities that happen there can be avoided if the police start patrolling riverbeds on foot instead of overcrowding the roads cruising around town.
The operation is a joint effort between the Namibian Police Force (NamPol), Windhoek City Police and the NDF to ensure there is no place for criminals in Namibia.
Sounds of chainsaws cutting into wood welcomed the group and it was at times ear deafening as one tree after the other was felled under the watchful eye of environmentalists from the city.
Operation Omake was established as per directive from President Hage Geingob to law enforcement agencies, including the City Police, to intensify crime prevention initiatives and public safety operations aimed at combating the increase in crime.
This follows the brutal slaying of the Kuaseua sisters (Cecilia and
Jacqueline) on October 9 in Khomasdal.
The directive includes the clearing of riverbeds and spaces that have become a safe haven for criminals; installation of flood and streetlights in crime-prone areas; installation of additional CCTV cameras in crime-prone areas; and strict enforcement of the Liquor Act 1998 (Act 6 of 1998.
Does this mean if someone is killed in an abandoned house, we will     demolish all abundant structures?
The scary part of it all is the fact that the operation will be rolled out to all corners of the country, soon we will be a nation with no trees.
Deforestation is one of the key     contributors to surging global     temperatures, something government needs not to be reminded, but we continue to turn a blind eye to it.
Earlier this week, the New Era newspaper reported that months after the launch of ‘Operation Omake’, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) confirmed that no environmental clearance certificate has been issued for the campaign.
This is despite the existence of a growing concerns in public that the national cleanup exercise is negatively impacting on the environment, which they fear could led to countless     endangered tree species being hacked to extinction.
Government is transgressing its own Act, one wonders why it was formulated in the first place.
According to the Environmental Management Act of 2007 no one, including private and government bodies, may carry out any listed activity without an environmental clearance certificate. Among the listed activities is the removal of resources, including natural living resources.
How is it possible that Pohamba Shifeta, the man entrusted to safeguard our environment allowed this to happen under his watch? If he cannot look after our environment, what can we trust him with?
Just recently Shifeta was in New York with the President where     Geingob signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the United Nations (UN) headquarters that was adopted at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, France in December 2015.
Talk about hypocrisy, how can we expect to receive support from the international community when it comes to fighting climate change if we are failing to adhere to the basic requirements maintaining the     environment.
Namibia has indicated that it will need about N$475 billion to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by 90% by the year 2030, if we do not adhere to the basic principles of planting more trees instead of chopping them down, we jeopardize the entire efforts of the international community.
You cannot solve a problem with a problem because it will only give you a short term solution.
Our safety cluster needs to devise more effective and better means to fight crime, not through publicity stunts that will ultimately destroy the Namibian vegetation to irreparable levels.

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