Namibia: Etosha land stand-off

Discussion in 'News & Announcements' started by NamStay, May 3, 2018.

  1. NamStay

    NamStay AH Enthusiast

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    ENVIRONMENT minister Pohamba Shifeta has said that his ministry is negotiating with a businessperson who wants to sell his private land in the Etosha National Park for N$12 million.

    News of this transaction comes as speculation is rife that several portions of land in Namibia's renowned national park were offered to Chinese investors by businesspeople owning private land in Etosha.

    The seller, according to Shifeta, is a Windhoek businessman, Gerd Schonecke, who is understood to have claimed that he bought the land measuring less than a hectare in the Etosha National Park.

    Shifeta told The Namibian on Monday that although the government was negotiating with Schonecke, there was concern that the N$12 million he is asking was way above the N$400 000 price established by the valuation carried out by the government.

    The N$12 million valuation is 30 times the N$400 000 valuation by the government. Shifeta said the government was willing to negotiate with Schonecke on the way forward, but warned that the state would not overpay.

    “We respect his right to the land, but our negotiations should be done in good faith,” the minister added.

    Shifeta said the government would pay “fair compensation” to Schonecke, based on accurate valuations of the land.

    “We don't want to use our last resort [expropriation], but we need to talk,” the minister stated, adding that according to him, it was not practical for someone owning land in the national park to sell the land for an exorbitant price if there was no development on such land.

    “We cannot allow the building of a private lodge in Etosha. It's a very sensitive area,” the minister said.

    Shifeta admitted that he was aware of speculation that private land in Etosha was being offered to Chinese investors.

    “I heard about the Chinese investors,” the minister said.

    Schonecke, however, yesterday denied that the price of the land was inflated, and said government's valuation was incorrect.

    According to speculation, individuals owning land in the park were considering selling it to Chinese investors for N$200 million to build a lodge in the park.

    The Etosha National Park has been severely affected by poaching, in which several Chinese nationals have been implicated.

    It is not clear whether the proposed Chinese transaction is real, or merely a tactic to force government's hand in negotiations.

    Shifeta denied claims that there were other privately owned plots in the national park, other than Schonecke's land.

    “We only know of that one,” he said.

    Schonecke yesterday confirmed owning land in Etosha but threatened The Namibian with a lawsuit if the matter was publicised because it “was a sensitive issue”, and that it was not in the public's interest for it to be aired before a deal was finalised.

    “Kindly just note something [...] if that story gets into the newspaper, I am immediately going to my lawyer to have it sorted out with the lawsuit, because it does not concern anybody, but nature conservation and myself,” he said.

    “At this point, it is a very sensitive issue, and I will be most grateful if you keep this issue out of the newspaper,” Schonecke added.

    “If this thing gets into the newspaper, unfortunately, your newspaper and especially you, as the first respondent, and your newspaper, as the second respondent, will hear from my lawyer, and it is going to cost you money. So, kindly keep it out of the newspaper, as I have mentioned to you. It is not at all in the public interest, not at all,” he said.

    The businessman said he has been talking to environment ministers for the past 14 years about this matter.

    Schonecke was not the only one seeking to prevent the publication of the story.

    Environment permanent secretary Malan Lindique yesterday refused to comment on the issue, saying he was not well-briefed on the matter.

    He referred The Namibian to the ministry's director of parks and wildlife, Colgar Sikopo, who also did not answer questions sent to him.

    “I will prefer that we write a brief statement on this matter so that it is well-understood. Can you please give us until Thursday morning when I am back with our response?” Sikopo, who was travelling abroad, asked on Monday.

    Etosha is one of the largest and oldest national parks in Africa, and the oldest in Namibia.

    The park, according to the tourism ministry's website, is the country's number one tourist attraction.

    The ministry said Etosha is home to 114 large and small mammal species and more than 400 bird species.

    “The size of the park has been reduced considerably since it was first proclaimed in 1907, but it remains larger than several European countries,” the ministry said, adding that the Oshindonga name for the pan was Etotha, meaning 'the place where no plants grow', but early European traders, unable to pronounce the name, called it 'Etosha'.


    Source: https://www.namibian.com.na/index.php?page=read&id=66487
     

  2. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    Sounds like a thick plot.
     
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  3. Delta5Cav

    Delta5Cav AH Senior Member

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    Sounds like the typical response. A friend in Namibia just closed their hunting business because of the government there.
     
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  4. sestoppelman

    sestoppelman AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    And getting thickerer...:eek::rolleyes:o_O
     
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  5. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    How did the government create a park and leave private property within its bounds?
    Nuts.

    Anyone want to bet on expropriation as the outcome?
     
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  6. Delta5Cav

    Delta5Cav AH Senior Member

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    I bet the Chinese get the property.
     
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  7. geoff rath

    geoff rath AH Enthusiast

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    Heaven forbid there goes one of Namibia's prime sources of funds for conservation. Australia has a MAJOR similar problem with the sale of productive farmland to Chinese "interests". New Zealand has banned such sales.
     
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  8. johnnyblues

    johnnyblues AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    People around the world had better see the big picture regarding the Chinese. They will soon become the global leaders on all fronts.
     
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  9. flatwater bill

    flatwater bill AH Fanatic

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    If the current land owner is white, then the govt. will expropriate. If a man of color, then the Chinese will get it. Regardless, he may not want to push the Govt. too hard in his negotiations. The above article has quotes from the government. It would be nice to hear from the land owner. Get his opinion. And the Chinese may have a different slant on it. I think they would love to have a lodge in Etosha. They will soon have a lodge in West Yellowstone. Their tentacles stretch to all areas of the globe...............FWB
     
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  10. Rick Cox

    Rick Cox AH Enthusiast

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    I'm pretty sure this has happened in BC as well. That is why certain businesses exist within some of the parks here. Banff has several, Manning Park, Rogers Pass, or like Silver Star once the assets are sold to private enterprises, they redraw the park boundaries to exclude the ski hill etc.
     
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  11. Hunter101

    Hunter101 AH Senior Member

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    that's no good
     
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  12. Pheroze

    Pheroze AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I dunno, I am coming to the realization that if your best naturalized asset is a park wildlife is screwed. So, put something in the park where I can buy a beer and take a leak so I can at least appreciate it.
     
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  13. dory

    dory AH Fanatic

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    No we havnt !
    They have just got more hoops to go through to buy it .
    Just saying .
     
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