Disgruntled former owner of the government acquired Farm Rustig 416 is accusing the Minister of Land Reform, Utoni Nujoma, of attempted extortion.
ring the second attempt. Zaire made these remarks during and an exclusive interview with this newspaper two weeks ago.
According to Zaire, the minister demanded the funds in return for the granting of a certificate of waiver, which the farmer applied for – prior to the sale of the land.
However, Nujoma’s business partner and legendary footballer, Sedekia Axab Gowaseb, who was cited by Zaire as having been an accessory to the act adamantly rubbished Zaire’s claims as falsehoods and challenge the farmer to repeat such claims in his presence.
In an exclusive interview with this newspaper, two weeks ago, Zaire is quoted verbatim saying: “Sometime in 2017 he attempted to extort money out me. I met his business partner Gowaseb at an office in Windhoek West, where he told me that Nujoma wants an amount of N$1, 5 million, as a trade-off for the waiver. I refused to comply. Nujoma was at the same office and as I walked in he asked me – munene omambo uejezuu nu? (Boss, you got the message right?). To which I replied, ‘yes, but I cannot do that, besides I do not have that kind of money.’”
According to Zaire, this was not the last time that the Minister allegedly pulled this move adding that the same thing happened in mid-2018, when the minister allegedly sent four unnamed individuals to Zaire, at an undisclosed location, to demand monies amounting to N$400,000.00 in return for a certificate of waiver.
Approached for comment, this week, Nujoma refused to comment and dropped the call. Gowaseb on the other hand told this newspaper that Zaire’s claims are far from the truth.
“He (Zaire) is not being truthful. He is actually the one who pleaded with me, on numerous occasions, to speak to Nujoma – since he (Nujoma) is my friend – so that he can get a waiver. And every time he did that, I told him ‘I do not want to get involved,” Gowaseb said, confirming that Nujoma is his personal friend, but he does not involve himself in the minister’s work.
“I do not talk about farms, because I do not have a farm and none of my family members has farms,” Gowaseb stressed. According to Gowaseb, he met Zaire at his (Gowaseb’s) office in Windhoek west. Zaire was looking for help and there was purportedly nothing that he could do. Expressing disbelief in the matter, Gowaseb demanded that a meeting be organised, at the Windhoek Observer, where Zaire can repeat these claims in his presence. Zaire is in Otjiwarongo where he is conducting at a burial of a relative.
Zaire has it that he also sought assistance from the office of the President, ‘to plead for his interference, but nothing came of it.’
Press Secretary and Presidential Advisor in the Presidency, Dr Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari confirmed having received the letter, but stated that he is not at liberty to discuss neither its contents nor the outcome of it.
“I am fully aware of that letter but I don’t think I am the right person to talk about the nature of its request. That is more within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Lands,” Hengari, who was in South Africa at the time said.
During the interview, Zaire revealed that although he did not cite the extortion matter in the letter State House, he mentioned it verbally to then Minister of Presidential Affairs, Martin Andjamba. The diplomat who is now acting as Minister of Education, Arts and Culture could not be reached for comment.
The battle for Farm Rustig 416, formerly known as Otjituezu emerged as a result of a court-mandated the sale of the property based on a judgment in favour of Zaire’s debtors who successfully sued for relief.
As per the law, government has the first option on all farmland sold in Namibia. However, before the sale of the land, Zaire asked for a waiver to either subdivide the land to sell only a portion of it to settle his debts or sell it whole for a higher price. While the ministry refused the waiver in the end, they sought a legal opinion from Attorney General (AG) Sakeus Shanghala.
The legal opinion by the AG, which has been seen by this newspaper, concluded that “considering the fact that the minister [of lands] failed to constitute the Land Tribunal timeously, setting a date [now] would be unfair to Mr Zaire (and may attract legal challenges). It is thus my considered opinion that the issuance of a waiver over Farm Rustig is best.” Shanghala sent this letter of advice to the Minister of Lands, Utoni Nujoma, on August 2, 2019, before Zaire’s farm was sold. Two weeks ago, Zaire maintained that he wants the matter to be revisited and for him to be given the waiver.