To the President of Finland Regarding the Epupa Dam Project

Wednesday, November 5, 1997

The Epupa Action Committee
(Established 27.4.1997)
P.O Box 3119
Windhoek, Namibia

His Excellency President Martti Ahtisaari Government of Finland
Transmission by hand

The Himba and Hydro–Electro Power Dam Scheme at Epupa

Dear Sir,

The Government of Namibia has decided to build an Hydro–electro power dam at Epupa on the Kunene River. The area of Epupa is inhabited by my people, the Ovahimba. My community have been opposing the construction of this dam for many years. We are still against the said plans due to the following reasons:

  1. our dead are buried at the site and it is against our tradition to move the dead.

  2. the area along the river provides us with the needed means for survival; food for people and livestock. The building of dam will inundate this resource.

  3. the construction will lead to rapid migration out of the area which will eventually destroy our tradition and culture and erase us as people.

As there is already a Hydro–electro power plant upstream at Ruacana, we approached our government to consider this option of repairing and upgrading the existing plant. No reaction came from our Ministry of Mines and Energy.

The reluctance of the Namibian government to consider the Ruacana option made us to realise that there are further motives attached to their desire to construct the power scheme at Epupa, which are:

  1. Kaokoland is potentially rich in mineral resources like uranium, iron and other minerals.

  2. Mwe Bay at the coast of Kaokoland has long been envisaged as the landing port for European nuclear waste. The execution of such an action was stopped successfully by the European peace movements in 1974. However, there is a possibility that such plans are not abandoned at all.

We are hereby convinced, that the erection of Epupa Hydro–electric power scheme is merely an excuse by our government, to provide the infrastructure to carry out the exploitation of a) and b) above.

We, as Himba, are not against development, but we do not like development to be forced on us.

Your government is supporting Namibia in many ways. To maintain democracy in any state, the democratic units within this state must be balanced. If financially supporting the Namibian government results in empowering this government to oppress a part of its people, then consideration of empowering the other parties in a democratic entity must be strengthened in order to maintain the balance. A disturbance in this democratic balance might lead to desperation and a subsequent destruction of life and property.

Therefore we would be grateful if you could help us in advising the Namibian government to consider other options of energy generation for its needs. Furthermore, we would appreciate any financial support you could extent us for our campaigning and lobbying activities in support of our course within Namibia.

Therefore, this will be the last plea to your government and should serve as a witness that if there be a future destruction of life and property in Namibia emanating from our Namibian government, your government will be held responsible for such deeds.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Motjinduika Mutambo
Chairman of the Epupa Action Committee

Dr. Reinhard Zaire
European representative of the
Kaoko–Epupa Development Foundation