Negotiations and decisions around Erindi were transparent – Geingob
WINDHOEK - President Hage Geingob yesterday emphasised the rule of law following a courtesy call by Mexican billionaire investor Alberto Baillères, the prospective buyer of Erindi, Namibia’s biggest privately owned game reserve, measuring some 71 000 hectares.
Geingob according to Presidential Press Secretary Alfredo Hengari, made this emphasis after a closed-door meeting with Baillères, at State House yesterday.
“Geingob emphasised that the right to property is part of the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the chapter 3, article 16 of the Constitution. Land transactions are guided by the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, which guarantees property rights,” said Hengari in a statement issued late yesterday.
According to him, President Geingob in his briefing also informed the media that Namibia at the moment does not have any law prohibiting foreigners from buying land.
In fact, he said Geingob reminded the media that the current owners of Erindi Private Game Reserve are not Namibians, but are the Joubert brothers, who are South Africans.
He said Geingob emphasised that a waiver was in place for Erindi Private Game Reserve, granted by former Minister of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation, Pendukeni Ivula-Ithana. Hengari said government wanted to purchase the farm for purposes of resettlement at a time when the farm was back on offer in the market, however, he added that the farm was not suitable for resettlement, but in an attempt to keep the farm in Namibian hands, government offered an amount of N$230 million to purchase.
Unfortunately, Hengari said, this was deemed unacceptable by the owners who wanted N$1.9 billion.
“Government went to court and took note of the fact that a waiver had already been issued and agreed to settle the matter outside court,” he explained.
“It should be noted that Cabinet discussed it transparently and a decision to allow the sale was above board,” he added.
He said discussions and decisions around Erindi were transparent and taken in line with collective accountability as per Cabinet rules and relevant constitutional provisions.
Hengari said Geingob accepted the courtesy call of Baillères within the directive that no business plans would be discussed at State House.
“As a matter of fact, and consistent with the directive, Mr Baillères, who is a status investor, has engaged the relevant line ministries and government agencies,” he said.
Hengari said the sale of Erindi, in line with regulatory processes, systems and institutions is currently awaiting approval by the Namibian Competition Commission (NaCC).
He said the President is wholly committed to the principle of transparency and accountability.
In that vein, he said the meeting with Baillères as attested by the press briefing following the exchange is once again a manifestation of commitment to transparent and accountable government.
“This was not a closed meeting between President Geingob and Mr Baillères. The President was accompanied to the meeting by four Cabinet Members, including the Minister of Land Reform, the Minister of Finance, the Attorney General and the Minister in the Presidency,” he clarified.
In closing, Hengari said, Geingob emphasised the importance of attracting investors to Namibia in line with national investment strategies, the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) and National Development Plans (NDP).
2019-06-27 09:12:37 25 days ago