Namibia: Russian billionaire seeks right to buy land

Russian billionaire Rashid Sardarov is seeking the right to buy three farms to extend his game ranch in Namibia to 46,000 ha, and at the same time is offering to donate N$24 million to the land reform ministry.
The Namibian | 3 November 2017

Russian billionaire seeks right to buy land
by Ndanki Kahiurika

RUSSIAN billionaire Rashid Sardarov is seeking the right to buy three farms to extend his game ranch, and at the same time is offering to donate N$24 million to the land reform ministry.
Sardarov purchased three farms which collectively measure 28 000 hectares in 2012/13 in order to set up a game ranch. However, The Namibian reported in 2014 that the billionaire's aim was to extend his ranch to 46 000 hectares by purchasing another 18 000 hectares of surrounding farmland.
In an advertisement issued by his lawyer, Sisa Namandje, the billionaire asked the owners of the three farms, who are known to The Namibian, to grant him the right to purchase, and for ministerial consent to be obtained.
As per land reform regulations, government should have the first option to buy farms put up for sale. Sardarov, in a bid to get the farms, is encouraging the land reform ministry to invoke a section of the Land Reform Act.
Section 58 requires that Sardarov purchases the earmarked land under certain conditions set by the ministry, and he proposes that under the conditions, he be allowed to donate N$24 million to the ministry, and set up a tannery on the amalgamated land within five years of acquiring it.
“Our client therefore irrevocably commits itself [...] to make a meaningful and tangible investment in certain social programmes by donating to government an amount of N$24 million,” Namandje stated.
According to the advert, the N$24 million donation would be distributed as follows: N$12 million to the land reform ministry; N$10 million to the Namibia Premier League (NPL); N$1 million for the refurbishment of identified schools; and N$1 million to train resettled farmers to become more productive.
“Should the minister of land reform accept the above tangible financial donation/contribution as condition precedent for his grant of the ministerial consent contemplated in terms of section 58 (4) of the act, the aforesaid total amount of N$24 million will be transferred into the trust account of the law firm Sisa Namandje & Co Inc. with instructions to be paid to the government on the date of transfer of the property in the name of our client,”reads Namandje's statement on behalf of Sardarov.
The Namibian has in the past reported that Sardarov hoped to buy more farms near Dordabis, south-east of Windhoek, through his company Comsar Properties SA.
At the time, Sardarov had applied to the land reform ministry to buy 18 000 hectares, which was seen as being in contradiction to government's bid to prevent foreigners from buying land in Namibia.
Sardarov is the chairman and founder of Comsar Energy Group and South-Ural Industrial Company (SUIC), both of which are large private companies in Russia, with interests in several countries of eastern Europe. 
The company's assets are reported to be more than US$2,2 billion.
Namandje could not comment yesterday as he was waiting for instructions from his client, but he offered to take this reporter to Sardarov's game ranch in a bid to show the investment made and employment created by the Russian.
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