Namibia: Erindi Sale a 'Gross Insult', Says Nudo

The Erindi private game reserve has been on the market for five years for nearly N$2 billion (U.S.$141,2 million).

Windhoek — The National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) says the nearly-completed sale of Erindi game reserve to a foreign investor is a gross insult to the Namibian people.

Nudo secretary-general Josef Kauandenge says Namibians fought for the return of their land from foreign hands, hence the party's opposition to the Erindi sale to the highest bidder in the shape of Mexican billionaire Alberto Baillères.

Baillères - worth N$122 billion ($8.3 billion) according to Forbes - is putting the final touches to the sales deal on Erindi private game reserve for a reported fee of N$2 billion.

Erindi, Namibia's biggest privately owned game reserve, situated between Okahandja and Omaruru, measuring some 65 000 hectares, has been on the market for five years but no Namibian individual or entity has been able to purchase it.

"The Namibian government is making a mockery of the policy of public participation on issues that affect them," said a combative Kauandenge.

"Recently we heard that the newly established commission on ancestral land rights claims will soon start to have public consultations with Namibians on this issue to hear their views."

Kauandenge said Erindi farm is part and parcel of their ancestral land claims, hence it is regrettable that the government seems not to be in line with the feelings and needs of its own people.

"We call upon the Namibian government to explain how they can enter into this transaction on behalf of the Namibian public without the consent of the Namibian people," he said.

Kauandenge says it defies logic that while the commission, created after last year's landmark national land conference, is busy investigating all claims to ancestral land, Erindi is being sold.

"Our question is, if it's found during the commission's work that indeed Erindi farm is part of those farms that can be classified as ancestral land, what will happen then. Will this Mexican be asked to return this land to the rightful owners?" questioned Kauandenge.

He said, equally, the whole resettlement process of buying farms and resettling people has been found to be lacking both in substance and allocation.

"The question is why does the government still continue to buy farms for resettlement purpose and what will happen should the Commission find those farms to be part of ancestral land claims," said the outspoken leader of the opposition.

"We cannot allow any part of our ancestral land to be sold to any foreigner at all," he said.

"The liberation struggle was hard and bitter all in the name of access to land. The Erindi farm transaction must be stopped forthwith as no part of this country can be allowed to land in the hands of foreigners. Does Namibia belong to foreigners or Namibians?" he added.

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