Reverend Josef Shikuma who last week made headlines over allegations of leasing his communal land in Omakuku village to Chinese, has come out strongly against the reports, which he says are untruthful and have tarnished his good reputation.
Shikuma, who visited New Era offices after the story was published in New Era last week, says the land in question is his communal land that he acquired in 1997, and on which he has been conducting an agribusiness since 2000. Pictures and a video of the agribusiness have also been circulating on social media, telling how land has been leased illegally to foreign nationals, something which had very much irked Shikuma.
Shikuma narrated that he started the agricultural business in 2000, cultivating vegetables, maize and other horticultural produce with the aim of selling to individuals, businesses and institutions.
In 2004 he entered into a joint venture with a Chinese partner, who was more experienced in agribusiness.
“My current partner is the second business partner I am doing business with, after my first Chinese business partner opted out of the joint venture some years back,” he says, emphasising that although he is in a business joint venture with a Chinese national, he has never leased or sold the land to foreign nationals, as alleged.
“This land is not owned by Chinese, it is communal land that I acquired legally and on which I have constructed my homestead. I have all the legal paperwork to show ownership of the land. I know nothing about leasing or selling the land to Chinese,” he said.
Shikuma, a pastor at Eheke Lutheran Church, further rubbished the allegations that his workers are paid low salaries. “I employ 20 Namibian people, men and women, who all receive no less than N$1 000 per month in wages,” he said matter-of-fact.
Shikuma also rubbished claims that the agribusiness sources water from the canal illegally, saying the homesteads along the canal have always utilised water from the canal for irrigation and other purposes, without raising an eyebrow.
“Everyone in the area knows my homestead and my business since its beginning in 2000. I have had local politicians visiting my business to see our operations, so really everyone knows what is going on in there. Of course the business was not at the level where it is now, but why is it suddenly an issue?” asked Shikuma, who also castigated New Era for not affording him the opportunity to give his side of the story before publication.
The issue has been circulating on social media and the Affirmative Action Repositioning group leader, Job Amupanda, has publicly condemned the business. Shikuma says it is a pity that no one dared to verify facts before publicly condemning his business and tarnishing his name.
“This business is a joint venture, and the government is encouraging joint ventures,” said Shikuma, expressing that he feels he is unfairly being discriminated against.