Russian land baron to invest N$600m
INVESTORS in the Marula Game Ranch project claimed yesterday that they plan spending N$600 million buying and developing farms as part of a project spearheaded by Russian businessman Rashid Sardarov.
Muyenga-Muyenga of the Popa Group - a Namibian partner in the group - who in an earlier interview last week denied knowledge of the project, said yesterday that N$300 million had been invested in Phase One of the project with an additional N$300 million earmarked for Phase Two.
The Namibian could not independently verify the figures provided by Muyenga as the spokesperson of the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, Chrispin Matongela, did not respond to questions sent to him last week.
Muyenga said the investors had complied with all the legislative requirements of the Land Reform Act and had in August obtained the Investment Certificate issued by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and had also received the Environment Clearance Certificate from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
“What has been outstanding is for the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement to pronounce itself regarding the waiver we applied for in July 2014 and the consent letter allowing a foreign institution or national to acquire land in Namibia in terms of the Land Reform Act,” he said.
He said the investors acknowledge the sensitivity around the land issue in Namibia but at the same time said the government places a huge emphasis on attracting foreign investment.
“This project can therefore not be compared to absentee landlords who have under-utilised land in Namibia,” he said.
He claimed that officials in the lands ministry had leaked information to The Namibian because they wanted to influence the decision of lands and resettlement minister, Alpheus !Naruseb on the waiver.
Sardarov through his company, Comsar Properties SA, has bought several farms in Namibia amounting to 28 000 ha where he intends to set up a game ranch and wants to buy more farms.
Sardarov plans to buy an additional 18 000 ha near Dordabis, 70km south-east of Windhoek in the Khomas Region to bring the total to 46 000 ha which he intends to develop into a game ranch. This contradicts recent government sentiments of acquiring land from absentee landlords and stopping foreigners from buying land in Namibia.
The government has the right of first refusal when land is sold and it could not be established whether the State had been offered and rejected the land targeted by the Russian.
Sardarov, through his company Comsar Properties SA, has so far bought farms with a combined 28 000 ha and has applied to the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement to buy a further 18 000 ha.
Sardarov is the chairman and founder of Comsar Energy Group and South-Ural Industrial Company (SUIC), both of which are large private companies in Russia, with a presence in several countries in Eastern Europe. The assets of the companies amount to US$2,2 billion, according to the SUIC website.
Documents show that there are currently over 7 000 game of different species on the ranch, which were purchased at around N$72 million.
Chamwe kaira: The Namibian