19 June 2017

Namibia: Erindi Sues Govt to Sell for N$1,9b

Government either buys the 65 000 hectare Erindi Private Game Reserve for close to N$2 billion, or must allow the owner to sell it on the open market, possibly to a non-Namibian buyer, the company owning the reserve is now asking the Windhoek High Court to order.

After first launching legal action against the minister of land reform in October last year, Erindi (Pty) Ltd last week changed the angle of its case, in the process expanding the range of orders it is requesting from the court.

Erindi is the owner of farms Erindi and Constantia, situated between Okahandja and Omaruru, on which the Erindi Private Game Reserve has been established on a tract of land measuring some 65 000 hectares.

In the initial lawsuit filed in October last year, it asked the court to order the land reform minister to hand over all valuation reports the minister relied on to make an offer in April last year to buy Erindi for N$265 million.

The company was also asking the court to declare that the minister acted in breach of his constitutional duty to act fairly, reasonably and in compliance with the law when he made the offer to buy Erindi for N$265 million, and further wanted the court to order the minister to provide the company with a letter consenting to the sale of Erindi to a non-Namibian buyer.

In an amended application, filed at the High Court last Thursday, Erindi now wants the court to review and set aside the minister's offer to buy the company for N$265 million.

Erindi is also applying for an order declaring that a written agreement exists in which government bought the company for N$1,92 billion - or to declare that the minister has declined the company's offer to sell to government, and that Erindi is now entitled to a waiver in terms of which the agricultural land it owns can be sold to a private buyer. It further wants the court to declare that Erindi is entitled to market and sell itself as a going concern - also to non-Namibian potential buyers.

In an affidavit filed at the High Court last week, Erindi managing director Paul Joubert alleges that the land reform minister knew no Namibian buyer, other than the government itself, would be able to buy Erindi for the price of N$1,92 billion, and that the minister's counter-offer to buy Erindi for N$265 million was not made in good faith.

The minister acted unreasonably and irrationally by making such a counter-offer and calling for negotiations on the purchase price at a time when the government did not have money to buy Erindi for N$265 million or to negotiate in respect of a purchase price higher than that, Joubert claims.

The case has been postponed to 6 July.

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