Bishops call for end to oil drilling in Namibia

Bishop Raphael Hess and Bishop Margaret Vertue hand over the petition to the Hon. Sarafina Tshilunga, Consul-General of Namibia in Cape Town, accompanied by the Revd Dr Rachel Mash, the Province’s Environmental Coordinator.


Bishop Luke Pato, the Bishop of Namibia alerted the Anglican Church that exploratory drilling for oil and gas has commenced in the Kavango Basin, Namibia, by Canadian Company ReConAfrica In response the Synod of Bishops has drawn up a petition calling for the immediate halt to the drilling.

“The process has not been an open one, with Namibians waking up to a mining venture that has already been signed and settled. There are many questions to be answered. “ Bishop of Namibia, Rt Rev Luke Pato

Thirty-four bishops and three Archbishops from around the world have signed a petition calling for the immediate halt to the drilling. These include the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Dr Thabo Cecil Makgoba; Archbishop Julio Murray, chair, Anglican Communion Environmental Network; the Most Rev. Linda Nicholls, Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church of Canada; Archbishop Mark Macdonald, National Indigenous Archbishop, Anglican Church of Canada; and Bishop Kito Pikaahu Chair of Anglican Indigenous Network, and the Bishop of Salisbury ,the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, lead Bishop for the Environment, Church of England.

Since the oil company is based in Canada, the petition was also signed by Lori Ransom, Interim Executive Director: Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives

The petition is being over today to the Government of Namibia, the Namibian Consulate in Cape Town, and the Headquarters of ReconAfrica in Vancouver and the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise.”

Canadian oil company ReconAfrica has bought rights to drill for oil in more than 35 000 square kilometres of the Kavango Basin in Namibia. This environmentally sensitive, protected area supplies water to the Okavango Delta, is a World Heritage and Ramsar Wetland Site, a Key Biodiversity Area and one of the seven natural wonders of Africa. The region is home to the largest remaining population of African elephants, 400 species of birds and is a sanctuary for many other animals. It is protected under the protocol of the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission.

The Bishops are protesting for the following reasons:


This exploration violates San rights under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people. It affects three regional UNESCO heritage sites: The Okavango Delta, the Tsodilo Hills and the San Living Cultural Landscape. ‘Unconventional oil and gas’ exploration and extraction will bring roads, heavy trucks, ribbon development and pollution.


Water is a scarce and precious commodity in Namibia, the driest country south of the Sahara. Grave concerns about the potential damage that ReconAfrica’s planned ‘unconventional drilling’ will do to groundwater have been expressed by a specialist from the Geological Survey of Namibia and the general public.


According to the ReconAfrica website, “oil generated in the basin could be billions of barrels” i, and be the “biggest oil play of the decade.” ii Namibia is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. With almost unrivalled solar energy potential, extracting ‘billions of barrels of oil,’ makes no sense. Reducing carbon emissions is a global responsibility.


Indications are that the deal between ReconAfrica and the Government of the Republic of Namibia were concluded behind closed doors. Initial meetings were only held in Northern Namibia. Only under duress was a further meeting organised in Windhoek, the capital city. Concerns raised by local activists have been belittled and The Namibian, the national newspaper which broke the story, is being threatened with legal action. iii iv


The EIA submitted by ReconAfrica does not comply with strict Namibian Government standards.v


ReconAfrica claims that drilling the Kavango basin is “pretty much a no-brainer…”vi The Bishops call it a sin.

Drilling in the Kavango Basin will fracture its geological structure and destroy the water system that supports this unique ecosystem and wildlife sanctuary. In so doing, it will also disrupt to the livelihoods of the indigenous people.

Based on the principle of restorative social and environmental justice, the Bishops call upon the international community to support Namibia and Botswana to develop renewable energy systems and help safeguard the precious Kavango ecosystem.


Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Dr Thabo Cecil Makgoba

Archbishop Julio Murray, chair, Anglican Communion Environmental Network

The Most Rev. Linda Nicholls
Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church of Canada

Archbishop Mark Macdonald, National Indigenous Archbishop, Anglican Church of Canada

Lori Ransom, Interim Executive Director: Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives

The Dean of the Province of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa; The Bishop of Matlosane, the Rt Revd Stephen Molopi Diseko

The Bishop of Namibia, the Rt Revd Luke Lungile Pato

The Bishop of Angola, the Rt Revd André Soares

The Bishop of California, Rt Revd Marc Andrus,

The Bishop of Te Tai Tokerau (Northland-Auckland), Kito Pikaahu Chair of Anglican Indigenous Network.

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, lead Bishop for the Environment, Church of England.

The Bishop of Saldanha Bay, the Rt Revd Raphael Bernard Viburt Hess

The Bishop of Mpumalanga, the Rt Revd Daniel Malesela Kgomosotho

The Bishop of George, the Rt Revd Brian Melvin Marajh

The Bishop of False Bay, the Rt Revd Margaret Vertue

The Bishop of Free State, the Rt Revd Dintoe Stephen Letloenyane

The Bishop of Johannesburg, the Rt Revd Dr Stephen Mosemanegape Moreo

The Bishop of Lebombo, the Rt Revd Carlos Simao Matsinhe

The Bishop of Highveld, the Rt Revd Mthetheleli Charles May

The Bishop of Pretoria, the Rt Revd Allan Kannemeyer

The Bishop of Christ the King, the Rt Revd William Joseph Mostert

The Bishop of Niassa, the Rt Revd Vicente Msosa

The Bishop of Mthatha, the Rt Revd Dr. Hummingfield Charles Nkosinathi Ndwandwe

The Bishop of Khahlamba, the Rt Revd Moses Madywabe

The Bishop of St Helena, the Rt Revd Dale Bowers

The Bishop of Port Elizabeth, the Rt Revd Dr. Edward Ronald Daniels

The Bishop of St Mark the Evangelist, the Rt Revd Luke Abe Pretorius

The Bishop of Mzimvubu, the Rt Revd Tsietsi Edward Seleoane

The Missionary Bishop of Nampula, the Rt Revd Manuel Ernesto

The Bishop of Table Bay, the Rt Revd Joshua Louw

Founder and patron of SAFCEI, The Rt Revd Geoffrey Davies

Honorary Assistant Bishop Diocese of York. Church of England Rt. Revd. Graham Cray

Retired regional bishop of Cape Town, Rt. Revd Geoff Quinlan

Retired regional bishop of Cape Town, Rt. Revd Christopher Gregorowski,

The Vicar General of Kimberley & Kuruman, the Revd Carol Starkey

The Vicar General of Lesotho, the Very Revd Tanki Mofana

The Vicar General of Natal, the Very Revd Ndabenzinhle Sibisi

The Vicar General of Zululand, the Rt Revd Funginkosi Mbhele

The Vicar General of Mbhashe, Ven Bonga Horace Mkabile

The Vicar General of eSwatini, the Very Revd Advent Dlamini

i Accessed 24 Feb 2021





vi Dan Jarvie Worldwide Geochemistry, LLC accessed 23/2/21

A silent protest will be held on the steps of St George’s Cathedral on the 11th of March at mid-day.

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