'Shame on you'

The official opposition and Job Amupanda's AR are on the warpath over a land leasing deal concluded between the government and a Russian billionaire.

19 October 2018 | Agriculture

The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) has launched a social media campaign to collect funds, as it prepares to drag the government to court over its decision to grant a Russian billionaire a 99-year lease for 17 000 hectares of land.

PDM leader McHenry Venaani said yesterday that the party was preparing an urgent High Court interdict in a bid to have the government's decision set aside.

“It is a sell-out and Hage's rhetoric stands in total contradiction to his actions. Shame on the president! Shame on the government and the company it keeps!”

Venaani said it seemed Namibia was for sale.

“How can you rent out a place for 99 years? Who is going to be kept accountable for this action after 99 years?”

President Hage Geingob, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, land reform minister Utoni Nujoma, the government and ombudsman John Walters will be cited in the court matter.

Rashid Sardarov paid N$2 500 per hectare for the four farms, with the total price coming to N$43.5 million. Farm Rainhoff, Kameelboom and Smaldeel, totalling 11 402 hectares, were sold as unit for N$28.5 million, while Farm Wolfsgrund was sold for N$14.9 million and is 5 989 hectares in size.

Sardarov, who is one of the richest men in Russia, purchased four farms and then donated them back to the government, which in turn leased them back to him.

Namibian Sun yesterday reported about the lease agreement, which was signed 13 days before the second national land conference.

The agreement also sees Sardarov pay N$160 168 in rent for the first quarter of each year in 2018/19, and thereafter the applicable annual land tax.

Venaani said Namibia was not for sale, and condemned the decision to lease the land to Sardarov shortly before the land conference.

Venaani said this was a watershed moment for the country, especially as the government seemed “hell-bent on cutting deals with the highest bidder”.

He said the PDM felt vindicated for having boycotted the land conference because it was a sham.

“Where can you hold a conference and deliberate about land questions, when the list of allocated land is not made public?”

Venaani said the government literally “gave away” yet another farm to a foreigner, just days before holding the conference, and then talks about absentee landlords.

He said while the PDM was not against foreigners who come with a plan and want to invest, it should not be in the guise of a calculated scheme.

According to him, the moment Sardarov donated the land to Namibia, it became government property and should have been dealt with in line with the resettlement programme

“There is no need to give land to an oligarch! We are not talking of a Namibian who has been resettled, but a billionaire who has no need for land and cannot be held accountable.”

Venaani said he would not be surprised if Sardarov was contributing towards the ruling party's 2019 election campaign.

“And I would neither be surprised if some hands in the lands ministry have been greased.”

He said that was why the PDM had decided to fight the matter in the High Court.

The official opposition also circulated a poster on social media yesterday, which read: “Help us stop the rot.”

The PDM asked the public for donations to support their litigation.

Saradov now controls about 45 000 hectares of land in Namibia.

He already owns 28 000 hectares in Dordabis, on which a state-of-the-art ranch known as Marula Game Lodge is built.

AR claims 'underground dealings'

Affirmative Repositioning (AR) leader Job Amupanda said there were underground dealings in the transaction between the government and Sardarov and a full investigation was needed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the ombudsman, who they said they would approach today.

A mass response will also be discussed in the coming days.

Amupanda said the revelation about Sardarov buying the four farms did not come as a surprise.

“We submitted an objection to this very transaction in 2017, in line with the land laws of our country, which was received by (land reform minister (Utoni) Nujoma, and to date he is yet to come back to us. Our lawyers are looking at this very issue and will advise us on the next path of action.”

Amupanda said their major concern was the lies and propaganda spread by “the corrupt regime”.

He further claimed that Sardarov did not buy the farms, with title deed documents showing the government had in fact bought them.

Namibian Sun reported yesterday that the Russian had donated the money to the government to buy the farms.

Amupanda said the country must be concerned about this horrible transaction.

He also pointed out that pages are missing from the title deed documents.

Namibian Sun previously reported that there was no mention of what compensation was paid to the farm owners for the loss of their business.

Amupanda said it was right of AR not to participate in the “gimmick” land conference.

He said they knew the conference was meant to hoodwink the unsuspecting masses, while defending the status quo.

He said AR predicted that foreigners would still keep their 2.5 million hectares of land and the “white man” will keep owning 70% of the country's farms.


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