More appeal against farm allocations

The fall-out over the allocation of the Osema and Gusende game farms is snowballing.

18 May 2017 | Government

President Hage Geingob has reportedly “begged” Chief Vipuira Kapuuo and the Ovitoto community not to stage their planned march to State House to register their objection to the allocation of the Osema and Gusende resettlement farms to Ovitoto Game and Hunting Safaris (Pty) Ltd.

The group had intended to march to State House last week Tuesday but were asked to refrain from this action. They were again asked not to demonstrate but to rather wait for a meeting with Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, who is reportedly standing in for Geingob who is currently in Equatorial Guinea for an African Union (AU) United Nations reform meeting.

A member of Kapuuo's group, Rirua Komeheke, this week said they agreed to meet with Kuugongelwa-Amadhila after they had a discussion at the Commando Hall in Katutura the evening before.

“If, for any reason, the decision to allocate the farms to Ovitoto Game and Hunting Safaris is rescinded, it would mean that the Ministry of Land Reform is not in safe hands,” commented Komeheke.

He called the allocation of the farms to Ovitoto Game and Hunting Safaris a “provocation”, accusing Minister Utoni Nujoma of “not taking care of the natural expectations of the people”.



More appeal allocations

Another company that applied for the Osema and Gusende resettlement farms, Chobezi Game Farming and Safaris, has also urgently appealed to President Geingob, as well as Ombudsman John Walters, to intervene in the allocation to Ovitoto Game and Hunting Safaris.

It has written letters of appeal to minister of land reform Utoni Nujoma and has submitted its appeal to the chairperson of the tribunal, legal practitioner Elize Angula.

The permanent secretary in the lands ministry, Peter Amutenya, in an advertorial said the allocation to Ovitoto Game and Hunting Safaris was made after 31 applications had been considered.

Amutenya said 17 of these applications fell out because they did not have business plans and two were disqualified on technical grounds.

Chobezi said it has submitted a 125-page “well-informed technical proposal”, which included five-year income and expenditure projections.

It said this included detailed information about its ten directors and its operational labour force, who all had extensive experience in lodge administration, eco-tourism promotion and marketing, game farming and conservation.

In fact, one of its directors is Orlando Haraseb, a professional safari guide, is the winner of the silver award for the 2016 International Wanderlust Guide of the Year.

He is also a former Brave Warriors player. The other directors are Magretha Links (chairperson), Estha Garoës, Andrew Admukue, Paul Thomas, Lentina Baardt, Vanessa Nowotes, Anna Swartbooi, George Eiseb and Ricardo Eiseb.

Chobezi's directors wrote to Geingob and Walters that they had been intentionally and “unfairly deprived of the opportunity to apply their acquired technical skills” by not having been allocated the resettlement game farms Osema and Gusende near Okahandja, and that they had been “hugely discriminated” against as a result. They asked for a re-examination of the evaluation process through which the N$40 million farms were allocated to Ovitoto Game and Hunting Safaris.

Chobezi further stated that the newspaper advertisement calling for expressions of interest in the resettlement farms only indicated that the farmland should be used for farming while no mention was made of submissions with detailed technical business proposals and financial projections.

It said the lands ministry did not even have functional and approved resettlement criteria before the closing date of the applications (on 16 October 2016) on how to regulate game farms allotted to successful bidders.

Therefore, Chobezi wanted to know what evaluation criteria were used by the technical committee of the Land Reform Advisory Committee in the absence of the said resettlement criteria.

The Chobezi directors further claimed that Nujoma had only endorsed the resettlement criteria on 7 November 2016.

In fact, the secretary of the evaluation committee for game farms in the lands ministry, Peter Ndeilenga, had admitted in an email to the Chobezi directors that that the resettlement criteria “were approved after the closing of the advertisement” and were “not applicable” to the applicants. Chobezi also wanted to know what the scoring by the committee was and whether Nujoma has discretionary powers to select resettlement beneficiaries.



Plagiarism claimed

The consultant who assisted with the preparation of Chobezi's application for the games farms, Tartisius Gaoseb, claimed that the lands ministry had plagiarised a description of a game farm from Chobezi's application. The lands ministry issued resettlement criteria for game farming on 19 September 2016 and its description of game farms was practically identical to the description Chobezi had included in its application.



AG cannot interfere

Attorney-general Sacky Shanghala wrote to the Chobezi directors on 8 May that their request for Geingob's intervention in this matter was “premature and unprocedural”.

Shanghala said he was not in a position to advise the directors any further because he was not mandated to do so.

CATHERINE SASMAN

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