WITH the law dictating that the government gets preference in buying farms in Namibia, commercial farmers offered 469 farms for sale to the state during the 2017/18 financial year, a report shows.
This information is contained in the Ministry of Land Reform's annual report, which was submitted to the National Assembly in October.
Of these, 89 farms measuring a combined 387 622 hectares (ha) were withdrawn by the sellers.
The ministry sent back a further 17 farms measuring 62 323,0130 ha, and waived another 12 farms with a combined area of 49 144,2959 ha.
A single farm was pending purchase at the time the report was compiled.
The report does not explain what happened to the remaining 350 farms offered to the government.
"The demand for land still remains significantly high, and will always be overshadowed by the supply of land," Peter Amutenya, the ministry's executive director, is quoted as saying in the report.
It remains unclear whether the ministry bought 10 or 12 farms during the period under review.
The ministry's audit report for the same period by auditor general Junias Kandjeke - which is also in Nampa's possession - recorded that they bought 12 farms during the financial year in question. The same figure is repeated in its annual report, while the executive director is quoted as saying the ministry purchased only 10 farms in the same report.
The farms cost taxpayers N$108,2 million, while Kandjeke's report indicates that the ministry spent at least N$123,1 million to procure farms during the same period, another discrepancy which could not be explained.
"The accounting officer reported that 12 farms worth N$123 120 501,75 were purchased, but the general ledger reflects an amount of N$221 484 900 in respect of farms purchased. The accounting officer should explain the difference," Kandjeke said in his report.
Efforts to get clarity from the ministry were fruitless as both Amutenya and his superior, Utoni Nujoma, the land reform minister, could not be reached on their mobile phones.
"Since the inception of the land reform programme in 1990, the Ministry of Land Reform has acquired a total of 529 farms at an overall cost of N$1,9 billion with a collective size of 3 213 478.91 ha (3,2 million ha)," Nujoma is quoted as saying in the annual report.
The ministry vowed to promote customary land registration, as it believes that the security of tenure promotes the socio-economic development of people, and encourages the sustainable use of rangelands, grazing and water.
To that effect, a total of 11 112 customary land rights were registered.