Diamonds to finance
Namibia land-grab?

By Anthony C. LoBaido

“The international diamond traders are the law in Namibia.”
— Namibian Minister of Energy and Mines Jesayu Nyamu

SOSSOSVLEI, Namibia – What do white-owned farms and diamonds have in common in Namibia? More than one might believe upon first glance.

When Namibia’s Marxist President Sam Nujoma recently released a list of 192 farms to be confiscated, many political observers wondered where he would find the funds to do so. In 1993, Namibia and Germany signed a bilateral accord stating that any and all German-owned farms would receive fair-market value from the Namibian government in the event of a land transfer.

Many Namibia watchers remain skeptical that Nujoma would risk destabilizing the Namibian currency with such a risky budgetary move. After all, the Namibian currency is directly pegged to the South African rand, and foreign investors don’t want to see Namibia turn into another Zimbabwe – where dictator Robert Mugabe’s confiscation of white-owned farms has brought that nation to the brink of anarchy and famine.

However, recent revelations that Nujoma might be ready to challenge the DeBeers diamond cartel point to a potential source of funds to cover the cost of the German farm purchases without swamping the national budget.

Nujoma and his SWAPO regime (Southwest Africa People’s Organization) recently listed 99 farms owned by German nationals and another 91 owned by white South Africans. There are 350 foreign-owned farms in all of Namibia. The total land area covered by these 192 farms is four times the size of Luxembourg.

Franzie Toppens, a white Afrikaner Namibian miner from Luderitz, told WorldNetDaily that he can scarcely believe recent developments between SWAPO and DeBeers.

“My family has been mining diamonds in Namibia for four generations. DeBeers and Anglo-American have been the undisputed kings in the diamond trade since day one. The British, the Afrikaners, the ANC – no one has dared to challenge them. Until now,” said Toppens.

Namibia was a German colony until the end of World War I, when it was turned over to the British Empire. Later, the apartheid regime took control of the area. The nation was known as Southwest Africa until 1990.

Recently, Namibian Foreign Minister Hidipo Hamutenya said his government was frustrated at the slow pace of land redistribution and put out feelers to the European Union for financial aid in taking over white-owned farm land.

“We want the EU to make a contribution, to give us money for those reforms. Once they’ve agreed to the principle that they will contribute, then we’ll talk about the figures,” he said.

“There is a (provision) in our constitution that private assets can be expropriated in the public interest,” he told the international media recently. However, it is well-known that Nujoma has appropriated several white-owned farms for his personal use. In Zimbabwe, most of the white-owned farms were purchased after the 1980 fall of Rhodesia to Mugabe’s Marxist government, and Mugabe has handed over most of the land to his cronies or to black squatters without the drive, resources, intelligence or agricultural knowledge to run the farms.

“Fair and just compensation must be provided to those who had laid claim to that property before. So the government might go for expropriation. We may not have to see it if people can be reasonable,” said Hamutenya,

White farmers control about 75 million acres of Namibian farmland. Only 5 million acres are owned by natives.

DeBeers double-cross?

With the rise of right-wing governments inside the European Union, there is little likelihood the EU will fund the Nujoma/SWAPO appropriation of white-owned farms. But that won’t deter the SWAPO regime, which set in motion a plan last May to garner a new revenue stream. This plan involves the DeBeers diamond cartel.

In 1994, DeBeers gave Namibia’s communist regime a 50 percent interest in the diamond mines for a 25-year mining right, including offshore. DeBeers agreed to the deal, even though Nujoma’s government didn’t put up any money, because it cemented its control of Namibia’s lucrative offshore rights. Geologists estimate that there are over a half-billion carats waiting to be mined under the ocean off Namibia.

It was last May that the Nujoma regime told Namibian Mines and Energy Minister Jesaya Nyamu to implement Section 59 of the Diamond Act.

“Section 59 is no small matter. It represents the ‘tail wagging the dog,'” Italian diamond trader Adriano Costa told WorldNetDaily. Costa owns a diamond trading company in Cape Town.

Under Section 59, Namiba can sell off 10 percent of its diamonds outside the control of the DeBeers’ global diamond monopoly. Nyamu penned a letter in 2001 to Gary Ralfe, DeBeers’ managing director, telling him of the SWAPO regime’s displeasure with its “arrangement” with the diamond cartel. Nyamu cited low prices as a large concern of the SWAPO elite. He also expressed unhappiness with DeBeers’ production quotas.

DeBeers, which set up a company with the SWAPO regime called Namdeb, was knocked for a loop by Nyamu’s letter. Maurice Tempelsman, an American diamond magnate and former consort of Jackie Kennedy-Onassis, immediately flew to Namibia for a personal meeting with Nujoma. Tempelsman has extremely close personal ties to the Nujoma family. For example, Aaron Mushimba, the brother-in-law of Nujoma, is a partner of Tempelsman via a company in the Bahamas registered under the name “North Bank Diamonds.”

On May 27, Tempelsman wrote a letter in which he promised the SWAPO regime an $80 million dollar down payment for not implementing section 59. The American also speculated that he might be able to get several large Western transnational banks to float another $30 million into SWAPO coffers if Nujoma would only relent on SWAPO’s threat to undertake an investigation into the prices DeBeers receives for its diamonds on the open, albeit controlled, market.

Nyamu banged heads with Nujoma at the recent SWAPO Politburo meetings and has sought to challenge Nujoma to be the new leader of Namibia. Nujoma, already in an unconstitutional third term, has sought to reign in Nyamu. The fate of Section 59 and its effect on Namibia’s budget and the future compensation for German farmers remains to be seen.

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