Roland Routh Windhoek-The Windhoek High Court deputy judge president Hosea Angula has temporarily halted the payment of land tax by commercial farmers until the High Court has finalised the review application on the valuation roll. Judge Angula interdicted the Ministry of Finance from issuing any assessment of land tax payable in terms of the main valuation roll dated April 1, 2012, or requiring any land tax payable based upon the roll. Following various unsuccessful objections to the valuation roll, two farming entities – Traupe Farming and Mapan Boerdery – lodged an urgent application to stop the Ministry of Land Reform, the Minister of Finance and the Commissioner of Inland Revenue from implementing the rulings and orders of the Valuation Court on September 23, 2016; October 10, 2016; November 08, 2016 and November 14, 2016, as well as the proceedings of the Valuation Court where the rulings and orders were made. After granting the interdict, Judge Angula ordered the Ministry of Land Reform to pay the costs of the application. The parties cited in the application are the presiding officer of the Valuation Court, magistrate Johannes Shuuveni; Fransicus Witbooi; Dudley Hite; John Malumani; Minister of Land Reform, Protasius Thomas; Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry; Minister of Finance and the Commissioner of Inland Revenue. The applicants argued that the valuations on the farms are far in excess of the value of the farms and did not consider the drought Namibia suffered recently. Judge Angula found that the applicants sufficiently and explicitly set out facts and circumstances, which they relied upon to make the matter urgent. Furthermore, he said, the court considered the fact that there are commercial interests at stake concerning the dispute pending between the parties and that such interests justified urgency. The applicants raised three substantive grounds in support of their application to have the Valuation Court’s rulings and orders reviewed and set aside, the judge said. The three grounds concerned the non-compliance of the regulations under the Land Tax Act, and further rulings of the Valuation Court were defective and that the members of the court failed to act fairly and reasonable in terms of common law and Article 18 of the Constitution. “In the court’s considered view, the applicants, as landowners and consequently liable to pay land tax to be levied based on the alleged flawed and defective valuation roll, have a prima facie right to demand that the valuation roll is free of defects before they can be assessed for payment of land tax, the judge said. “Given all these considerations, the court was persuaded that the applicants had discharged the onus on them and had established a prima facie case in the sense that if the facts alleged by the applicants were to remain un-contradicted and were to be believed at the hearing they would establish a prima facie case,” said the judge. The judge ruled that even if the applicants would be eligible for a refund if found to have paid too much tax, they should not be required to part with their money just because they would be able to claim a refund.
2018-02-27 10:22:45 6 months ago