Land reform minister Calle Schlettwein has on Tuesday confirmed in parliament that Farm Ebenhauezer and portion 1 of the Farm Guinas in the Oshikoto region is owned by former president Hifikepunye Pohamba and his wife Penehupifo.
Schlettwein was responding to questions raised by the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) lawmaker Henny Seibeb who wanted to know if the farm was bought by the government as a resettlement farm or is private property.
The Pohambas according to Schlettwein purchased Farm Ebenhauezer No. 464 measuring 3 192.2574 hectares and portion 1 of the Farm Guinas No 454, measuring 1 019.5094 hectares in 2003.
Seibeb questions came about after Amanda Haodoms (78), who claimed to be a generational farmworker and her family who were allegedly employed as domestic workers at the farm, refused to vacate the property.
The elderly woman claimed they were allegedly promised a portion of land by the previous owners, Bennie and Renay Grobelaar.
“It is also factually incorrect to state that Haodoms is a generational farmworker. In fact, she used to work for Bennie Grobelaar, the former farm owner as a domestic worker at another locality, not on this particular farm,” Schlettwein told the August House.
He said the former head of state and his wife found the couple accommodated on the farm with the understanding from Grobelaar that they would eventually leave.
“The couple is not employed at the farm. They have only been permitted to temporarily reside on the farm on humanitarian and compassionate grounds until such time they can find an alternative place,” the minister stressed.
Schlettwein said Pohamba and his wife have no obligation towards the couple that is residing on their private land.
“I must elaborate this point further by stating that Haodoms was in the employment of Grobelaar senior, father of Grobelaar junior, from whom the farm was bought by the Pohambas,” the minister said.
“Grobelaar senior had made a promise to Haodoms to accommodate her on his farm and that commitment was subsequently passed on to the son, Grobelaar junior.”
Schlettwein said the former president has approached Grobelaar junior to make good that promise and ensure that the Haodoms are accommodated elsewhere but to no avail.
“Out of compassion for the stranded Haodoms, the Pohambas consequently allowed the couple to stay on the farm for five-years,” Schlettwein said.
“Grobelaar junior was again approached via his lawyer to either accommodate the Haodoms or to pay a commensurate rental fee, but unfortunately neither response nor any payment was received by the Pohambas,” he said.
In an effort to formalise the situation, Schlettwein said the Pohambas entered into an agreement with the Haodoms, which allowed them to remain on the farm for a further five-year period.
“They agreed to a very humble rent of N$120 annually. A formal agreement, signed by the Pohambas and the Haodoms which stipulated rights and obligations of both the farm owner and the renters, was entered into on the 31st October 2008,” he said.
After the lapse, the minister explained that no alternative accommodation was provided to Haodoms by Grobelaar junior.
“Again out of humanitarian considerations, the Pohambas extended the agreement for a further three years with similar conditions,” the minister said.
Unfortunately, he said, both agreements were breached several times by the Haodoms.
“These breaches included the erection of structures on the farm without permission, the total neglect of maintaining the fences of the allocated camp,” he said.
The minister said it is therefore abundantly clear the Pohambas showed great compassion towards Haodoms.
“The responsibility to care for the long-term employee firmly rests with the Grobelaars, not with the Pohambas,” he said.