Nujoma justifies lease of four farms to Russian billionaire

19 Oct 2018 11:00am
WINDHOEK, 19 OCT (NAMPA) – Land Reform Minister Utoni Nujoma has come out in defence of Government’s decision to lease four farms to Comsar Properties SA - a company owned by Russian billionaire, Rashid Sardarov.
In November 2017, Comsar Properties SA proposed to the government to acquire and purchase four farms in the Khomas Region, Nujoma stated.
However, he said, Government was opposed to the idea by Comsar Properties SA to acquire four farms measuring 17 385 hectares, so instead consented to a leasehold for a period of 99 years.
Explaining the deal in the National Assembly on Thursday, Nujoma said Government had to consider Sardarov’s offer, amid the economic and developmental benefits it presented.
“In view of the massive developmental and economic benefits and various employment opportunities, the matter was taken to Cabinet for further deliberations to inform the decision that the government would eventually take on the matter,” Nujoma told his fellow parliamentarians.
It was after this interrogation by Cabinet that the government agreed to grant consent to Comsar Properties SA to lease the farms in question “under stringent conditions” from Government.
The conditions include that Comsar Properties would buy the farms from the owners and have the farms directly transferred into the name of the government.
The farms cost N.dollars 43 million.
Among the conditions also set out by the government around the lease is that Comsar pays an annual rental fee to the government equivalent to farm taxes paid by all commercial farmers.
Another condition is that all improvements made to the farms will become property of the Namibian government at the end of the 99-year lease duration.
In addition, Comsar Properties SA is also obligated to employ 15 children of the liberation struggle on or before 01 January 2019.
Additionally, Sardarov’s company is required to establish a tannery and employ people from nearby farms.
Nujoma’s comments come on the back of an uproar, which have seen the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) and Affirmative Repositioning (AR) criticise the government over the deal.
PDM is of the view that the transaction is de facto resettling a foreigner and promised to challenge the deal through an urgent court interdict to have it overturned as it is not in the best interest of the Namibian people.
To this effect, the party launched a litigation campaign under the banner ‘HELP US TO STOP THE ROT’.
AR is alleging that it was not Sardarov who purchased the farms in question, but that it was in fact the Namibian government that bought the farms.
AR now wants Government to come clean as to where the N.dollars 43 million came from; whether it was budgeted for and whether the transaction was approved by Cabinet.
To seek recourse, the AR will take up the issue with the Anti-Corruption Commission and Ombudsman John Walters on Friday, the movement promised on Thursday.