Defence to buy land for N$84m at Keetmans

By Eliaser Ndeyanale

THE Ministry of Defence could acquire a section of townland valued at over N$84 million in Keetmanshoop if there is no objection to the sale by today (Thursday). The ministry wants to buy the piece of land, measuring 2,817,100 square metres, by way of close bid invitation.

The land is marked PTN 81, according to an advert placed by Keetmanshoop Municipality last week, and is being sold for N$84,513,000. The ministry has reportedly purchased several farms for millions which it does not develop, had not indicated what it intends to do with the land.

Confidente could not obtain clarification from Minister Penda ya Ndakolo or the executive director Peter Vilho yesterday. The minister sent a message saying “Sorry, I am in a meeting”.

However, Captain (navy) Benhardt Masule Mwapole who is a senior staff officer estates in charge of in the directorate of construction and maintenance department of the ministry, said they do not intend to buy land in Keetmanshoop and did not have any agreement with Keetmanshoop Municipality to buy the land, saying N$84 million is a very high amount.

“There is no intention from the Ministry of Defence to buy land… In fact, there was no agreement between us and the municipality of Keetmanshoop to buy land. So the price attached to that land, you know in every town, each portion is zoned… either surveyed by the town council themselves and then it attaches its price there. On this portion of land we are already having a military base there … the town council wants to expand the town closer to the base. We told them there is no way you can come closer to the base. There should be a buffer zone around the base for security reasons.

“That space of land now is a buffer zone. I am the one dealing with land and there was no day I was tasked by my principals that we were going to buy that portion of land… there is no such. This is a buffer zone and there is no agreement. You can check in our files, there is no agreement where we have agreed (to buy the land).

“Normally if we want to buy land, we use to send the Ministry of Land [Reform] to go and value the land before we buy. There is nothing like that. This is a buffer zone. Even the price attached there is so high and that portion has already been donated to us. We even told them that even this buffer zone must be ours.  Whoever published that I don’t know where they got the information.”

Surprisingly, Keetmanshoop CEO Desmond Basson was of the view that the ministry wants to extend its barracks. “Why are you asking that question sir? The ministry wants to extend barracks. That is all,” he said.

In July, acting chief of defence Marshall Martin Pinehas stated in a media statement that the ministry did not have sufficient facilities. Although at Independence all the facilities which were established for defence purpose by the former government were inherited by the ministry, but some properties were illegally alienated to individuals, hence the existing facilities are not sufficient.

“The MoD had to resort to acquiring more land to fill that void,” Pinehas said at the time.

This is not the first time the ministry would buy land for an exorbitant price. In 2017, the ministry bought Farm Oropoko for N$45 million, but it appears not to have developed that farm. It was reported then that the farm would house NDF special forces, which did not have a base, but almost two years after the farm was acquired no infrastructure has been put up yet.

In April 2017, the ministry bought farm Otjisemba No 24 for N$24 million but it was reported in August this year that the ministry had not finished paying off the farm and was on the vague of losing it. Sources with knowledge of the area, said the ministry has not developed either of the two farm, which are located close to each other.

“There is nothing for the ministry on the farm, except for game, such as oryx, giraffe and springbok. They wanted to build a barrack for special forces, but I understand that was impossible because there are no funds,” the source said.

Asked whether the ministry had now developed the Farms Otjisemba and Oropoko, Captain Mwapole said “there are infrastructures already there.”