By: Kazenambo Kazenambo
The purpose of this piece is to consider some socio – economic factors surrounding the reported sale of Farm Erindi from a multi-stakeholders public policy perspective.
Right from the onset, I would like to point out categorically clear that, the ongoing debate on the sale of Farm Erindi cut across socio- economic sectors, therefore, directly or indirectly impacting on the broader interests of workers, investors, government and local or native Namibians who were dispossessed of ancestral land during colonial era, the media (print and electronic media), amongst many other stakeholders. Hence an open debate on the sale of Erindi should not be narrowly confined to one aspect of the debate, but it must rather critically consider and appreciate diverse factors surrounding the issue. Thus, Farm Erindi constitute, an environment conservation (natural habitat management), eco-tourism and hospitality management, socio-cultural heritage, business, economic and political development issue.
Given, the obtaining historical and contemporary background of Farm Erindi in the geo-politics of Namibia on the one hand, and global/international tourism development and nature conservation on the other, we need to take a wider global helicopter view, as opposed to considering everything from a Plato’s cave or silo viewpoint and perspective. We need well informed and well-thoughts considered approaches on the subject as we proceed forward without distortions, fear or favor.
Farm Erindi is a private property which is operated as an Eco-Tourism business going concern for Wildlife nature conservation purposes. To my knowledge, the highly upscale developed Eco-tourism farm Erindi (privately owned nature reserve) is not a government Farm or property, and it has been in the market for sale for some years by now.
From a Farmland perspective, Farm Erindi is a private Commercial Farm which counts amongst many other Commercial Farms in Namibia, of which we all know the established procedures which are applied and followed on the sale of Commercial Farms in Namibia since attainment of Independence in 1990.
Thus, as private citizen, one expect and hope that, the Law takes its course and due legal public policies applies on the sale of Farm Erindi applies, therefore leaving any suggestions or inferences that the sale of Farm Erindi is somehow unusual as misinformation and misleading. Furthermore, before I continue, there is a need to briefly appreciate the business and investment part of Erindi in the Eco-Tourism nature conservation sub-sector of our economy.
From Namibia’s Economic development perspective, Erindi private nature conservation reserve is one of Southern Africa’s sought after Eco-Tourism product. As Tourism Economic products cannot be exported or be imported, Erindi eco-Tourism nature reserve remains one of Namibia and Southern Africa’s Flagship tourism product which must be looked at as is. Meaning that for anyone (Tourist) from around the World to experience and consume, the Eco-Tourism nature product, which Erindi has to offer, one has to travel to Erindi in Namibia as Erindi cannot be exported to or imported by any country.
From a conservationist perspective, it is reported that there are about 20 000 Wild Animals including various rare and endangered species in farm Erindi. Nature conservation, and game observation activities at Eco- Tourism Farm Erindi involves and covers: Elephants, Crocodiles, Hippos, Wild Dogs, Lions, Leopards in addition to protection of our country’s fauna and flora. There are also Interactive Lectures offered at Erindi. Tourism development in Namibia is one of the strategic critical sectors which bring in foreign currency into our Economy. Erindi contributes to that in addition to job-creation, and scientific research on wildlife (contributing to Namibia’s Educational scientific intellectual capital on Wildlife Management and Nature Conservation), as an international popular Eco-tourism destination, in addition to our Etosha National Park. By way of further illustrations, In order for us, to guard against throwing away a baby with bath water, we need to ask ourselves: Why has Eco- Tourism Erindi generated such investment interest abroad?
It is because it is a competitive eco-tourism product of large scale which puts Namibia on the International tourism development and investment map. Namibia, like all other Global economies (countries) which yearly spend millions if not billions on the global Market looking for foreign investors, should celebrate the fact, that with Eco- Tourism Developed Farm Erindi, Namibia has succeeded in attraction of multi-billion Investor-worth, in the otherwise competitive global/international tourism development subsector of the global economy.
Namibians and our development partners ought to welcome Investors who are intending to invest in Erindi as testimony to our Country’s attractiveness to Foreign Investors due to our friendly business and economic environment. Farm Erindi Eco-Tourism product contributes to drawing Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) into our Economy.
Towards conclusion, I unreservedly join those hundreds if not thousands of Namibians who are pressing for land reform in Namibia in general, and addressing of ancestral land in particular. Hence I welcome the Commission on Ancestral Land, which was recently commissioned to collate Namibians positions and narratives on the topic. I hope the outcome or recommendations of the Commission will lead to address land hunger and restorative justice on land reform in Namibia. The Ancestral land reform commission, followed soon after the National Land Conference held last year. However, as we move forward, we must be truthful and honest to ourselves, to acknowledge that Namibia is not an isolated island on our own, when it comes to the development of the global economy.
We exist amongst the global community of nations, therefore, we must guard against isolating ourselves with unjustified and uninformed populist political rhetoric. We cannot afford to be a pariah Economy by being anti-foreign investors. And again with this, I am not suggesting that we must sell out our country’s assets to foreign investors for the sake of it. Today’s most Industrialized prosperous Economies such as that of the City Economy of Singapore, and Dubai, they lifted themselves from the list of so-called poor third world countries by opening up and welcoming foreign investors in their economies without surrendering their political sovereignty.
Thus the anti- foreign investors’ rhetoric on land on ground of populism may boomerang, if the case of Ongombo West Farm, East of the Capital City Windhoek is to serve as a case study. That farm was expropriated by government, and where are we with it today? Did it serve as a good blue-print for our land reform (ancestral land management)? Am not sure, but what I know is that, it was not only jobs which were destroyed, but the entire business of logistic supply chain of supplying fresh flora (flowers) to Europe was destroyed or ruined, leading to loss of Foreign Currency earnings for our Economy.
When are we going to start learning from our own or other people’s mistakes in the process of our international trade and economic development? When are we also going to learn from good lessons, by emulating from others such as our brothers and sisters in Kenya, who are growing their economy by using their land effectively in collaboration with foreign firms such as in the flora global industry, whereby Kenya plays a leading role from the African continent? Namibia has it all, good weather, supply of plenty of sun, sand and sea (sss) which are all pre-requisite and sort-after environmental factors for development of blue and new economies. Land, land and land yes, but in a careful balanced approaches and understandings.
By: Kazenambo Kazenambo