NEWS 2005



Monday, February 28, 2005 - Web posted at 10:40:43 GMT

NAMIBIA: San group demands immediate resignation of WIMSA head


A group of San people from across the country marched to the Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa (WIMSA) offices in Windhoek, handing over a petition to co-ordinator Axel Thoma demanding his immediate resignation.

The group claims that they have never seen the WIMSA constitution, nor in the 10 years of its existence have they ever seen any financial reports.

Both these documents are public documents and can be viewed by anybody wanting to do so, according to WIMSA.

The group also claims that Thoma has done very little to educate the San community and that he does not recognise the traditional leader of the Hai //om community.

WIMSA has in the past enrolled 21 students at the University of Namibia, the Polytechnic of Namibia and the Teachers Training College.

They also train at least four San people every year at their offices so that they can go back to their communities and assist them with administration matters.

Joram /Useb, who works for WIMSA and is a member of the Hai//om community, said: "The traditional leader David //Khumuxub was appointed by Government and even we, the Hai//om, do not recognise him as our leader."

WIMSA represents about 100 000 San people in Namibia, Botswana, Angola and South Africa.

Of the estimated 38 000 San living in Namibia, the Hai//om are the largest group.

According to Joram /Useb, they are also the best off.

The Hai//om have an educational advantage over the other San groups and thus they get better employment and easier access to further education, he says.

There are currently six Hai//om working for WIMSA and most of the San students at Unam are Hai//om.

The protesters also wanted to know what happened to money that was supposed to be used for a community project in Outjo.

According to Thoma, a community member misappropriated N$20 000 and a lack of interest from the community itself led to the collapse of the project.

WIMSA is not responsible for the implementation of projects; that has to be done by the community.

The organisation is only there to lobby, Thoma said.

The Municipality of Outjo donated 50 hectares of land to the different communities living in Outjo so that they can create jobs and generate income for themselves.

WIMSA has built a cultural centre on the land given to the San.

The San community must now develop the centre to create an income for themselves, Thoma pointed out.

WIMSA has proposed that the remaining land should be used as a nature resort to generate income for the community.

The group demanded that Thoma close the office within 48 hours or they would take the law into their own hands.

Thoma said the petition would be discussed at a management meeting, and also at the annual general meeting of all three countries involved, and a reply would then be given in writing.