Thursday 17 June 2021
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N$207m or N$43m?

Sardarov’s Russian land deal gets murkier

Russian oligarch Rashid Sardarov paid N$207 million for the four farms he bought near Windhoek weeks before the September Land Conference and not N$43 million as claimed by Minister of Land Reform Utoni Nujoma, The Patriot can exclusively reveal.
The Patriot has in its possession the adopted proposal document that was presented to the Cabinet Committee on Overall Policy and Priorities (CCOPP) in May 2018 by Nujoma. The committee is chaired by President Hage Geingob.
The proposal clearly breaks down the cost of the farms and how much was paid per hectare as well as the size of each farm.
A source privy to the matter said “the amount on the title deeds were altered but the payment went through to the seller as is”.
“Government opted to alter the price it presented to the public because it feared that the prices would upset the farm prices countrywide, if it were revealed. Cabinet confirmed the proposal as presented, the only change was the introduction of the 99-year lease aspect,” said the official.
At a press conference last week, the Russian Embassy said it was in no way part of the deal and indicated that it does not mingle in the internal affairs of other countries.
The Lands Ministry’s spokesman Chrispin Matongela last week told this reporter that he is not aware of the documents which indicate that the purchase price for the four farms was N$207 million and not N$43 million as publicised by Lands Minister Utoni Nujoma.
Is this evidence of kickbacks to the some officials in government – or rather, good negotiation skills from the COMSAR SA contingent?
On the face of it, Nujoma’s explanation is good. But this is a tale of coincidences, some so large as to challenge the credulity of the Government’s version.
Government had told the public that the Russian billionaire paid N$43 million for the four farms near Dordabis from two farmers in September this year.

The proposal
It has long been disputed that government’s pronouncement that Russian billionaire Rashid Sardarov bought four farms in the plum Dordabis area for N$43 million is significantly undervalued.
A good example is when COMSAR SA bought portion A of farm Hillside no 115 from TLP Investments 79 for N$64 million in 2013. The farm measured 5765 hectares.
Now, a Patriot investigation shows that the controversial land deal was worth N$207 million for the four farms that measures 17 385 hectares. COMSAR SA offered the farmers N$12 000 per hectare.
It is not known why this information has not been presented to the public, considering government’s zeal for transparency.
In the same document, it is indicated that COMSAR SA would pay just over N$207 million for the farms.
It would pay N$60.5 million for Farm Reinhof No. 123 that measures 5027.8594 hectares. COMSAR SA also committed to pay N$ 71 million to buy Farm Kameelbook No.119 that measured 5917.3812 hectares.
For Portion C of Farm Smaldeel No.124 COMSAR SA paid just over N$5 million for the land which measures 457.7248 hectares.
All three farms were owned by Reinhof Farming Company.
COMSAR SA also bought Farm Wolfsgrund No.122 that measures 5982.1345 for N$72 million.
In the document COMSAR also proposed to, as a way of donating to the Land Reform process, to donate an amount of N$12 million to the lands ministry for the minister to purchase two farms to resettle landless Namibians.
According to the document, the money will be paid to government when the farms are transferred to COMSAR SA.
It also proposed to donate N$10 million to government in order to contribute to the Namibian Premier Soccer League and N$1 million to enable government to  refurbish two identified dilapidated primary schools, one in Kunene and another in Kavango West respectively. Each school would receive N$500 000.
Disgruntled officials who were not in support of what is considered a new deal,  indicated that the proposal made in 2014, complete with an Environment clearance certificate should have been supported by Government “unless there was underhanded dealing”.
This gives credence to corridor talks within the Lands ministry that highly placed Government officials are implicated as the alleged masterminds who may have used their political power to influence the mega land sale deal involving Sardarov.
Lands minister Utoni vehemently defended the lease transaction saying all laws were adhered to when government leased the property.
He would however not go into the intricate details of the dodgy deal which has caused an uproar amongst land-starved Namibians.
“We just had a land conference and the resolutions are policies, they need to be checked with our laws.
We had the Land Bill with 89 resolutions where we wanted to prohibit the sale of farm to foreigners, a request was made in parliament to place the Bill in abeyance until land conference is over, unfortunately those who made that request boycotted the conference,” said Nujoma during a press conference last month.
The lands minister said he approved the 99-year lease application from COMSAR SA because of the “developmental and economic benefit that will arise from the investment to be made by the lessee.”
Nujoma said the lease is renewable. COMSAR SA will pay an annual rental fee of N$160 168.48 for the current financial year.
The properties, according to the agreement, must be exclusively occupied by COMSAR SA for its businesses of choice including but not limited to game farming and tourism related business for its own account on the date of registration of transfer of the properties into the name of the government.
Back in time
Sardarov’s fondness for the flora and fauna in the Dordabis area started almost a decade ago when he got permission from the Ministry of Lands to consolidate three farms which he acquired after COMSAR Properties SA became the sole shareholder of a company called Otjimukona Pty (Ltd).
The company previously traded as Ernst Henniges Otjimukona Pty(Ltd). The three farms owned by the company were Otjimukona no 120, Stolzenfeld no 283 and Straussfeld no 116.
After Comsar took over the company, the lands ministry in 2009 sanctioned Comsar’s application to consolidate the three farms.
After the consolidation, they became Farm Otjimukona 532 measuring 11 515, 0861 hectares.
A consolidation certificate was issued in May 2009. Otjimukona Pty was represented by Henner Diekmann in his capacity as director of Otjimukona Pty Ltd.
In this deal, Otjimukona was represented by its director Igor Evgenievich Rybakov.

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