Government says it’s happy with the outcome of the Erindi deal, which will see Mexican billionaire, Alberto Baillères acquiring the vast property, as it provides an investment boost into the country’s tourism sector.
This comes as the businessman has promised to upgrade the property, while continuing with its conservation activities on the vast estate. Finance Minister, Calle Schlettwein, told the Windhoek Observer that government had no qualms with the transaction and has already given its approval. “I am happy that he has found interest in investing in the country, investing in environmental and tourist activities,” Schlettwein says.
On why government had forgone its pre-emptive rights to acquire the property, resulting in the 65,000-hectare property falling into foreign hands, Schlettwein says government could not meet the purchase price required by the owners, which was rumoured to be around N$2 billion. “In the current economic climate, we did not have the money to enable us to make an offer acceptable to the seller. Our offer was rejected by the owner and the law compels us to make a call whether we are prepared to buy or not and thus we could not buy it,” Schlettwein says.
“I think it was a complex situation; we did what the law compelled us to do and it is a pity to see land staying in foreign hands, but in this case, the legal framework under which we are operating, obliged us to say yes or no to the question whether we want to purchase the land or not.” According to the Namibian Sun, the deal has attracted the scrutiny of the Namibia Competition Commission (NaCC), a regulatory body, which can approve the deal in its current form, demand conditions for the deal to be approved or decline the transaction.
The NaCC is said to have been irked by the contradiction in the detailed provided when the transaction was announced and the actual paperwork submitted for approval. Prior to sale of the property local activist organization, Affirmative Repositioning (AR) had requested that the government include a condition to compel potential Erindi buyers to provide funding for the purchase of a farm within a 50-kilometre radius of Windhoek to be used for the establishment of a youth township to accommodate a minimum of 2,500 houses, but it remains to be seen of the new owners will consider any of these demands.
AR has also demanded that future buyers provide N$10 million to government to be used to service 300 residential plots at Goreangab in Windhoek.
The National Unity Democratic Organisation (NUDO) has already condemned the planned sale of the private game reserve.
The Erindi game reserve is made up of three farms, namely Farms Erindi, Constantia and Otjimukaru, situated between Okahandja and Omaruru, measuring a combined 65,000 hectares.