WINDHOEK - President Hage Geingob has said Erindi, Namibia’s biggest privately-owned game reserve, measuring 65 000 hectares, can legally be sold to foreigners since the waiver was granted way before last year’s land conference.
Geingob made these remarks during a meeting with the newly-elected leadership of the National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo), who paid him a courtesy visit to State House on Monday.
Mexican billionaire investor Alberto Baillères, worth N$122 billion ($8.3 billion) according to Forbes, awaits approval for Namibia Competition Commission (NaCC) before finalising a sales agreement with the South African owners of Erindi private game reserve.
New Era understands that a deal has already been struck for Baillères to purchase the game reserve, situated between Okahandja and Omaruru, for N$1.95 billion.
Geingob, responding to concerns raised by Nudo leaders on the sale of Erindi, which has been on the market for five years for a price of nearly N$2 billion, said the matter between the Ministry of Land Reform and the owners of Erindi started way before the landmark 2018 national land conference.
The conference resolved to study ancestral land claims, which some now claiming that Erindi was their ancestral land.
According to the Head of State, a waiver for Erindi was granted long before his administration took office in 2015.
He said government, as per a land conference resolution, is still working on a law that will prohibit the sale of land to foreign nationals, but until that law is passed, the status quo would remain.
Geingob says even if government tried stopping the sale of Erindi, it could be sued in courts and would have no basis in law to win any such lawsuit.
Furthermore, Geingob said the game reserve was also found to be unsuitable for resettlement. “They [ministry] normally look at a farm when offered. We are saying the owner of the farm must first make an offer to the state, and the state must first see if that farm is suitable for resettlement.”
“You can go and see it. I don’t know how many of you have seen Erindi. It’s tough to settle people there and therefore it was said it is not suitable to resettle people there,” he added.
Geingob said after it was found that reserve was not suitable for resettlement, a waiver was then given to the owners to sell the property.
“Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, I think, was the minister [of land] at the time. These people [the owners] didn’t know that they had a waiver at that time, which was still valid,” he said.
Baillères, 87, Mexico’s second richest man owns Grupo BAL, which controls a large number of other companies including Industrias Peñoles, the second most important Mexican mining company.
2019-06-19 09:24:45 3 months ago