OMUTHIYA – Through negotiations the government is likely to accrue N$100 million from the sale of Erindi Private Game Reserve if the deal by the Mexican billionaire Alberto Baill?res is sealed. President Hage Geingob made this announcement during a town hall meeting in Omuthiya yesterday, saying people should stop fighting and criticising the transaction based on ancestral land claims as the sale is for the benefit of the Namibian people.
He said the farm has been up for sale for the last five years but no one was able to buy it locally including the government. Government had offered to purchase the farm for N$265 million but the owners turned down the offer.
Baill?res is said to have offered to purchase the prime game reserve for N$1.9 billion, an astronomical jump from the government’s offer.
The Presidential Commission into Claims on Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution last week told President Geingob at State House that there is strong opposition to the proposed sale of Erindi by the people it has consulted so far. Some communities have called for the sale to be put on hold pending the outcome of the commission’s work, the commission’s chairperson Judge Shafimana Ueitele said in his briefing to the head of state.
Some critics say the deal should not be approved following last year’s national land conference that resolved that no land should be sold to foreigners.
Last month President Geingob said Erindi, measuring 65 000 hectares, can legally be sold to foreigners since the waiver was granted way before last year’s land conference.
Commenting on the financial benefits the government would make from the looming sale, Geingob yesterday said: “This was a good resolution, we are getting something – about N$100 million – out of this deal to provide for our people.” Erindi is situated between Okahandja and Omaruru and comprises three farms, namely Erindi, Constantia and Otjimukaru.
It is one of Namibia’s biggest privately-owned game reserves. The transaction is yet to be finalised pending the Namibian Competition Commission’s approval.
In past media statements issued by Emergo Communications, billionaire Baill?res was described as a highly respected Mexican business leader and philanthropist who is president of multi-national consortium BAL group.
Baill?res has experience in managing several wildlife protection ranches in different countries. His aim is to upgrade and enhance Erindi, creating a world-class attraction and protecting its wildlife. He also plans to adopt best anti-poaching and conservation initiatives.