Saturday 15 May 2021
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Ministers corner NWR over JV deals

Namibia Wildlife and Resorts(NWR) was this week at pains to explain several joint venture agreements that it has entered into with some private tourism companies, The Patriot can reveal.
A heated meeting between Ministers Leon Jooste (Public Enterprises), Calle Schlettwein (Finance) and Pohamba Shifeta (Environment and Tourism) with the NWR board and its MD took place on Monday.
Sources privy to the meeting said the ministers questioned the company about the recent joint ventures it has entered into, especially those related to its Glamping projects.
The finance minister is said to have accused NWR of trying to “alienate state assets” by entering into deals which it can execute itself.
Jooste is said to be concerned with the process that led to the signing of the joint ventures.
Shifeta on the other hand, allegedly accused NWR of striking deals on properties it does not own. It seems he is referring to Von Bach Dam and Mile 14 as NWR does not have ownership of the documents such as title deeds of the properties.
An NWR source however disputed that assertion, saying the company’s founding Articles make provision for NWR to use all state-owned tourism resources.
At Monday’s meeting, the ministers ordered that all current constructions/developments ongoing with regard to the Glamping project be put on hold pending the necessary approvals from the minister.
The ministers also wanted to know why NWR cannot implement the Glamping project itself instead of entering into a partnership.
The Patriot understands that NWR warned that backtracking on the agreements could result in government being sued by the private partners for breach of contract.
“These deals have already been signed and construction at some camps such as Sesriem has already commenced. Halting these activities could have serious legal repercussions for government.
Perhaps the ministers feel NWR should clean up its own mess, but be that as it may, everything comes back to government,” said a senior government official who opted not to be named.
The source also said the trio accused the board of failing to carry out its oversight mandate on the company.
NWR’s managing director Zelna Hengari referred all questions to involved ministry’s when contacted for comment.
NWR has always maintained that the JVs for Glamping is part of the company’s intent to turn around the financial performance of the company as well as to establish Namibia as the leading tourist destination on the continent.
Monday’s meeting came days after The Patriot recently reported that MET is in the process of seeking legal advice in order to nullify several joint venture agreements that Namibia Wildlife Resorts has entered into.
According to an internal memo written by the ministry’s permanent secretary Seimy Christoph-Shidute dated 4 July 2018, addressed to Shifeta, no consultation was done neither approval granted for any new NWR joint venture agreements.
She said NWR had submitted the proposed project to MET for consideration and approval, however, the Ministry highlighted a number of concerns that needed to be attended to and therefore did not grant approval.
The deputy PS also indicated that the business plan and financial model of NWR have not been in line with the Integrated Strategic Business Plan guidelines proposed by the Ministry of Public Enterprises for all public enterprises as standard and for purposes of easy monitoring and evaluation of implementation/performance of public enterprises in terms of their business plans.
“NWR Business Plan highlights a number of initiatives to be implemented as part of their development and business growth strategy.
Among the projects are the construction of Clamping Tented Camps at Daan Viljoen, Hobas, Sesriem, Waterberg and Etosha and the construction of 1500-1800 holiday houses at Mile 14,” she said.
She raised concern about the projects and the proposed as well as signed joint ventures.

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