The Presidency emphasises competency of institutions of the state regarding the sale of Erindi and the availability of President Hage G. Geingob to dialogue with stakeholders to clarify Government policy, past and present
The position of the Head of State and the circumstances surrounding the sale of Erindi Private Game Reserve in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Namibia should be restated for the broader public not to be misled. The President, in performing his tasks must assure investors that Namibia is safe and rule of law is respected. As a matter of fact, and consistent with the directive, Mr Bailleres, who is a status investor, has engaged the relevant line Ministries and Government Agencies. The sale, in line with regulatory processes, systems and institutions is currently awaiting approval by the Namibian Competition Commission (NaCC). That process should be allowed to run its course.
President Geingob does not negotiate with business leaders. In line with accepted international practice, they pay courtesy calls like other stakeholders the President sees on a daily basis. It is part of the President’s participatory approach to governance that stakeholders must be consulted, heard and challenges must be identified, solutions found, with line Ministries and Agencies of Government as the basic anchors in the governance architecture. The principle of not negotiating business at State House stands, and remains an unshakeable position for as long President Geingob remains in office.
Following the courtesy call by Mr Alberto Bailleres, prospective buyer of Erindi Private Game Reserve, President Hage G. Geingob emphasized that the right to property is part of the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in chapter 3, article 16 of the Constitution. Land transactions are guided by the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, which guarantees property rights. Any contrarian actions shall not be permitted in Namibia, a country that respects the rule of law and institutions.
It should be said that notwithstanding the recommendations by the Land Conference convened by President Geingob in October 2018, specifically the recommedation calling for foreigners not to buy land in Namibia, it deserves mention that the recommendation remains just that, a recommendation until the relevant institutions of the State enact laws to that effect. It is why President Geingob in his briefing on 26 June 2019 restated to the media that Namibia at the moment, did not have any law prohibiting foreign nationals from buying land. In fact, the President reminded the media that the current owners of Erindi Private Game Reserve are not Namibians, but are the Joubert brothers, who are South Africans. This point should be wholly appreciated by all.
The President achored his leadership on the continuation of a legacy (“The Legacy Continues”), to highlight and to own all the actions undertaken under the Founding President, Dr Sam Nujoma and Former President, Hifikepunye Pohamba. It is not a failure of leadership, but ownership of collective decisions by the same Governing Party, SWAPO when the President says that a waiver is in place for Erindi Private Game Reserve, and it was granted when Hon. Pendukeni Ithana was still serving as Minister of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation from 1996-2001. After all, the President is salutory with regard to the leadership provided by Honorable Pendukeni Ithana on identity documents and passports when she was Minister of Home Affairs.
The explanation holds that Government wanted to purchase the farm for purposes of resettlement at a time when the farm was back on offer in the market. The farm was considered by the Minister of Land Reform as not suitable for resettlement. In an attempt to keep the farm in Namibian hands, Government offered an amount of 230 Million Namibian Dollars to purchase. Unfortunately, this was deemed unacceptable by the owners who wanted 1.9 Billion Namibian Dollars. 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.
Moreover, it should be noted that Cabinet discussed transparently and a decision to allow the sale was above board. Discussions and decisions around Erindi Private Game Reserve were transparent and taken in line with collective accountability as per Cabinet rules and relevant Constitutional provisions.
Through an approach of participatory governance, President Geingob is wholly committed to meet with concerned stakeholders, and in this same vein accepted an invitation dated 25 June 2019 from the Namibia Public Workers Union (NAPWU), National Teachers Union (NANTU) and the Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union (NATAU) to discuss among other national issues, the sale of Erindi Farm and the Economy. The meeting, due to take place today 2 July 2019 did not proceed as envisaged due to the unavailability of line-ministers who had commitments prior to the invitation from the Unions.
President Geingob is wholly committed to the principle of transparency and accountability. In that vein, the meeting with Mr Bailleres 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 Bailleres. 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.
In closing, the President emphpasises the importance of attracting investors to Namibia in line with national investment strategies, the Harambee Prosperity Plan and National Development Plans. President Geingob has invited Mr Bailleres and other business leaders to look at sectors of the economy ahead of the July 2019 Economic Growth Summit. The invitation, which the President extends to other investors is central to the fight against unemployment, promoting economic growth and fighting poverty.
Namibians must be rest assured that President Geingob will always act in the interests of the Namibian people, and shall always be guided by the supreme law of the land.
• Dr Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari is press secretary in the Namibian Presidency.
2019-07-05 09:45:25 18 days ago