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Schlettwein belays speculation

Schlettwein belays speculation

Staff Reporter

 

THE Namibian Prime Minister and her husband did not receive any special treatment or preference when they sold two farms in the Otjozondjupa Region to the Namibian Government.

 

The debacle that surrounding the acquisition of two farms, purported to be resettlement farms, from the Namibian Prime Minister and her husband was addressed by Calle Schlettwein, the Minister of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform during a special briefing in Windhoek at the end of last week.

 

Time did not permit the agriculture minister to formally answer questions levelled at him in the National Assembly about the acquisition of the two farms by members of the opposition and he decided to address the matter at a formal briefing on Friday.

 

The briefing pertained to the approval of the agriculture ministry to buy the farms held by a closed corporation owned by Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and her husband Onesmus Tobias Amadhila for almost N$15 million.

 

The two farms, Farm Goab No. 760 and Farm Duwib No.1 149 in the Otjozondjupa Region were registered under a company called Seize The Moment Investment Fifty Six Corporation.

 

Schlettwein denied that the owners obtained the farms through the resettlement scheme and stated that the two farms in question were bought from the owners without them receiving valuation preference.

 

“The owners did not receive any valuation preference during the valuation of these properties as alleged. The market value of the farms was determined through the Sales Comparison Approach to determine the market value of the farms,” he said.

 

Schlettwein Namibian Prime Minister special treatment sold farms Otjozondjupa Region Namibian Government

 


Schlettwein’s full statement reads as follows:

I am grateful for your attendance at this media briefing. We wish to share with you and through you with the general public, aspects relating to allegations and speculations contained in articles published in daily newspapers recently in connection with two farms acquired by the State that belonged to a closed corporation in which the RH Prime Minister and her husband are shareholders.

The articles deal with a farm acquisition that the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform concluded recently and allege preferential treatment accorded to the RH Prime Minister and her husband. The articles rehearsed parts of the questions Hon Henny Seibeb put to the Minister of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform in the National Assembly. Obviously, I shall answer the questions fully and comprehensively once given that opportunity in the National Assembly. However, the allegation and the factual basis on which these questions are resting are questionable and in some cases just untrue. I, therefore, saw the need to call for this media briefing to afford the public a more accurate and truthful picture. Secondly, the matter attracted wide media attention and it involves a very senior member of Government, the Prime Minister and it is therefore in the public interest to address it soonest.

The farms, Farms Duwib No. 1149 measuring 5008.4563 hectares and Portion 1 (Called Agenab) of the Farm Goab No. 760, measuring 2750.2142 hectares are situated in Registration Division ‘’B” in the Otjozondjupa Region, and were legally owned and held under Deed of Title No. T760/2012. They were acquired by Seize the Moment Investment Fifty Six CC (CC/2010/0619) from the previous owner (who is a previously advantaged Namibian) and transferred on 28 February 2012.

Seize the Moment Investment Fifty Six CC has two shareholders, namely Mr. Onesmus Tobias Amadhila (50%) and Mrs. Saara Nandjila Kuugongelwa-Amadhila (50%). These farms were therefore private properties of Seize the Moment Investment Fifty Six CC and not State land. The two farms were not acquired by Seize The Moment Investment Fifty Six CC from the State.

Subsequently, however, the same two farms were offered in 2020 by Seize the Moment Fifty Six CC to the government as per Section 17 of the Agricultural [Commercial] Land Reform Act, Act No. 6 of 1995 on the 20th January 2020. The Act makes provision that every farm must be offered first to the State to exercise the State‘s first right of refusal to acquire the farm. The Ministry, following the recommendation of the Land Reform Advisory Commission, assessed the farms and found them suitable for resettlement purposes.

The farms were valued and upon the recommendation of the Land Reform Advisory Commission, a counter-offer was made to Seize the Moment Investment Fifty Six CC. After price negotiation meetings (as provided for in the Agricultural Commercial Land Reform Act), the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform made a final Counter Offer of N$ 1713.00 per hectare for Farm Duwib No. 1149 and N$2100.00 per hectare for Portion 1 (Called Agenab) of the Farm Goab No. 760 which were accepted by the owners as the true market value of the subject properties.

The farms were transferred to the State on the 18th of December 2020 after having been acquired at a purchase price of N$ 8,624,377.00 for Farm Duwib No. 1149 and N$ 5,812,371.72 for Portion 1 (Called Agenab) of the Farm Goab No. 760. The total amount paid for both properties amounted to N$ 14 436 748.70.

The owners did not receive any valuation preference during the valuation of these properties as alleged. The market value of the farms was determined through the Sales Comparison Approach to determine the market value of the farms. This process is currently supported by the legislation as well as the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia.

It must be noted that farm prices have generally doubled during the past ten years (just before COVID 19 hit us). They have come down now, but at the time of the transaction, land prices were still peaking. To illustrate the point, I Googled myproperty.com.na for farms for sale and found for instance „Farm for sale in Outjo, 7140 ha, N$ 10 500 000 (1470.59/ha).

Farm for sale in Otavi, 3189 ha, N$ 15 000 000 (4703.67 N$/ha). Farm sold in Okahandja for N$ 15 000 000, 1692 ha (N$ 8865.25/ha).

It is further worth mentioning that out of the 13 farms selected for market value, i.e. farms that were valued and sold during the same period, 2 farms were used to derive the market value of Farm Duwib No. 1149, Registration division B, due to their close proximity to the farm and the fact that these farms were recently sold in relation to the time of the sale of the farms in question. The farms used for comparison were sold at N$1, 746.96, N$1,600.00 per hectare.

In the case of farm Portion 1 (Called Agenab) of the Farm Goab No. 760, Registration division B, 3 farms out of 13 were selected for market value determination. These farms were sold at N$2,292.77, N$2,000.43, and N$2,702.32 per hectare.

During the period 2020/21 the Ministry purchased 10 farms and I have attached the list with the respective details to my statement. The per hectare prices varied from N$ 3050 to N$ 1713. By comparison farm Duwib, the one bought from Seize The Moment Fifty Six attracted the lowest per hectare price (N$ 1713) while farm Agenab came in as the sixth lowest at N$ 2100.

It is factually incorrect to state that Dr. Saara Nandjila Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia was at any point resettled, applied for resettlement nor did she benefit under the National resettlement Programme. The Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform has verified through its database that the farms in question were privately purchased under a normal commercial scheme loan that is administered by the Agricultural Bank of Namibia, and bonds were registered over the subject farms.

Equally, it is factually incorrect to state that State land was used as part of collateral for a loan application. The farms that were used as collateral belonged to Seize the Moment Investment Fifty Six CC, held under Deed of Title No.T760/2012. They were privately owned at the time of the transaction.

I am very worried when media reports paddle falsehood in an effort to discredit Public Institutions. The article alleges preferential treatment accorded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform to Seize The Moment Fifty Six CC owned by the RH PM and her husband, which is false and untrue. We could show that all processes, acquiring and disposing of the two different properties, farm Duwib and farm Agenab were conducted at reasonable and comparable market prices and in terms of the applicable law.

Relevant documents such as title deeds were issued. They are publicly available. I, therefore, urge you to put the record straight by reporting factually and truthfully. The action or crime of making false spoken statements damaging a person’s reputation is harmful to the people involved, it is unjustly undermining the integrity of public institutions, in fact, it can be a crime in itself. If the intent is to fight corruption good and well, you have my full support, but do it with authenticated facts.

Untruthful reporting like in these articles harms the fight against corruption.

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