Investor ‘steals’ project
Khorixas resident and founder of the Bloukrans Community Project, Claudius Hoib, has accused investor Antonio Rossouw, from Henties Bay, of “stealing” the initiative that he came up with 21 years ago.
In 1995, Hoib came up with a plan to build a lodge in a communal area at Bloukrans, situated 50km outside Khorixas, which would benefit members of that community.
He and 23 others approached the Erongo Regional Council and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism for funding.
The group received N$310,000 from the National Planning Commission in 2005 and they built administration offices and other structures.
Hoib this week accused another resident of the town, Richard Gariseb, of collaborating with Rossouw, in an attempt to elbow him out of the project.
Both Hoib and Gariseb are married to sisters.
“Richard Gariseb influenced other members in the project and chose to lease the place and the half-built lodge to a white man from Henties Bay.
“I started the project and he joined me in the middle, but he became selfish and wanted the project for himself and the white man,” Hoib claimed.
Government, through the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, agreed to fund the project with a further N$1,8 million in 2011, but some community members allegedly refused to take the money, because of other agendas, Hoib claimed.
The project needed the extra funding to build rooms and other structures, before it could be opened to tourists and other visitors to the area.
Hoib told the Windhoek Observer that some members agreed to work with the investor behind his back.
“They influenced others not to accept the government grant, instead they want to work with the investor, and I don’t know why.
“This is how they steal our (black) projects. How can someone from nowhere just jump into the project and want to own it, when it has cost so much to set it up?”
Hoib further accused unnamed politically connected individuals of trying to grab the project from him.
“This is my idea. I came up with it. You don’t just come from Windhoek, and find people eating in Khorixas, and then you say you want to eat as well. It does not work like that.
“Why can’t we (blacks) support one another? If someone is wrong, they are just wrong. It does not matter whether you are black or white,” Hoib fumed.
Documents seen by the Windhoek Observer show that Rossouw has unsuccessfully applied to the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) to be granted an operating licence.
The documents also show that Rossouw wants to change the project to a solely managed propriety instead of a community trust.
In an interview with the Windhoek Observer, NTB’s Chief Executive Officer, Digu //Naobeb said that the project has been plagued by internal fighting, which needed to be resolved.
“I have been trying to resolve the matter. But every time we set meetings, these two separate groups come individually.
“We have told them to resolve their internal dispute, if they want the project to go forward,”//Naobeb said.
According to //Naobeb, NTB sent one of its inspectors to the site two weeks ago, but improvements have not been made.
He said that NTB had previously given the project 12 months to sort out pending issues, so it can issue them an operation licence, but nothing has changed.
“There have been outstanding matters, such as the building of toilets, camping facilities, water connections, laundry facilities and sanitary defects etc.
“Initially, we gave them six months to put their house in order, then again another six months. But now we are considering rejecting the application, so they can close the operation and start afresh.
“Perhaps this will give them all the room to sort out their internal issues,”//Naobeb said.
When approached for comment, Rossouw’s wife, Fransa, answered the phone, saying that her husband has hearing problems and cannot understand English.
“My husband cannot speak English and has hearing problems. I know what you are talking about and this matter has been dragging for six years now.
“Of course my husband has not stolen the project. That project was built by European money; look I don’t even want to go further, bye,” Fransa said, before hanging up the phone.
She then called back later to tell the Windhoek Observer that her family had lost a lot of money, because of the project.
“The European Union invested its money in that project. And we have also spent our personal money of N$1,8million in that project. None of his (Hoib’s) money went into that project, he paid no employees, because over 40 workers worked for us,” Fransa claimed.
Attempts to contact Director of Tourism in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Sem Shikongo, proved futile.