Following a courtesy call by Mr. Alberto Baillères, the prospective buyer of Erindi Private Game Reserve, President Hage Geingob emphasized that the right to property is part of the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Chapter 3, article 16 of the Constitution.
Land transactions are guided by the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, which guarantees property rights.
President Geingob in his briefing informed the media that Namibia at the moment, does not have any law prohibiting foreigners from buying land. In fact, the President reminded the media that the current owners of Erindi Private Game Reserve are not Namibians, but are the Joubert brothers, who are South Africans. President Geingob emphasized that a waiver was in place for Erindi Private Game Reserve, granted when Hon. Pendukeni Ithana was still serving as Minister of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation from 1996-2001.
Government wanted to purchase the farm for purposes of resettlement at a time when the farm was back on offer in the market. The farm was not suitable for resettlement, but in an attempt to keep the farm in Namibian hands, Government offered an amount of N$230 million to purchase. Unfortunately, this was deemed unacceptable by the owners who wanted N$1.9 billion.
Government went to court and took note of the fact that a waiver had already been issued and agreed to settle the matter outside court. It should be noted that Cabinet discussed transparently and a decision to allow the sale was above board. Discussions and decisions around Erindi Private Game Reserve were transparent and taken in line with collective accountability as per Cabinet rules and relevant Constitutional provisions.
Dr. Geingob accepted the courtesy call within the directive that no business plans would be discussed at State House. As a matter of fact, and consistent with the directive, Mr.Baillères, who is a status investor, has engaged the relevant line Ministries and Government Agencies. The sale, in line with regulatory processes, systems and institutions is currently awaiting approval by the Namibian Competition Commission (NaCC).
President Geingob is wholly committed to the principle of transparency and accountability. In that vein, the meeting with Mr. Baillères as attested by the press briefing following the exchange is once again a manifestation of commitment to transparent and accountable Government. This was not a closed meeting between President Geingob and Mr. Baillères. The President was accompanied to the meeting by four Cabinet Members, including the Minister of Land Reform, the Minister of Finance, the Attorney General and the Minister in the Presidency.
In closing the President emphasizes the importance of attracting investors to Namibia in line with national investment strategies, the Harambee Prosperity Plan and National Development Plans. President Geingob invited Mr.Baillères to look at other sectors of the economy.
This invitation, which the President extends to other investors, is central to the fight against unemployment, promoting economic growth and fighting poverty.
The President also extended an invitation to Mr. Baillères to the July 2019 Economic Growth Summit.