Russian farms deal decision 'slipped': Simataa

06 Dec 2018 16:40pm
WINDHOEK, 06 DEC (NAMPA) – It was never Government’s intention to conceal the decision by Cabinet to lease four farms to Russian oligarch Rashid Sardarov until 2117, Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Stanley Simataa has said.
This was Simataa’s response on Thursday, when he was asked by journalists about the deal and why Namibians had to learn about the transaction through media reports and leaked Cabinet documents.
The questions by reporters stemmed from Simataa’s stance that all Cabinet decisions are made public, through him as the official spokesperson of the government.
“Nations, organisations operate systems and systems sometimes in the process of being managed, over time, tend to have certain issues slipping. There are slippages,” Simaata said, adding that no entity is immune to slippages.
It was not deliberate, he said, noting there was that slippage in terms of sharing.
“I know many of you have made up your minds that Government didn’t want to share the information with the nation. That is not true”.
When further pressed by reporters on how it “slipped” at a time when land is a topical issue, he said: “Don’t behave as if you colleagues are demi-gods on Mother Earth. Don’t behave as if you in the media are a paragon of virtue”.
This “slippage”, according to Simataa, is something that Cabinet has reflected on and acknowledged.
“When you are in a leadership position, avoid denying certain missteps. Acknowledge them. As leaders, sometimes we have to be magnanimous. Concede your mistakes”.
Government has previously defended its decision to lease four farms to Comsar Properties SA, a company owned by Sardarov.
Initial reports suggested that Sardarov bought four farms outside Windhoek for around N.dollars 43 million, donating them to the State before renting the same farms from the government for 99 years.
Last week, local weekly newspaper The Patriot reported that Sardarov paid N.dollars 207 million for the four farms and not the N.dollars 43 million, as was claimed by Government.
The said report emanates from a leaked adopted proposal document that was presented to the Cabinet Committee on Overall Policy and Priorities in May 2018 by Land Reform Minister, Utoni Nujoma.
Neither the Prime Minister, Nujoma, Simataa nor any senior Government official have come out to dispute the report.
When this was put to Simaata, he brushed it off, saying: “I don’t believe in speculative reporting…I don’t encourage that, neither today, nor tomorrow or any other day”.