n Kuzeeko Tjitemisa WINDHOEK – Agribank will this Friday auction two farms in Otjozondjupa Region, belonging to farmers who have allegedly been defaulting on their loans with the bank. The state-owned bank is owed in excess of a combined N$500 million by defaulters and has been battling to recover its money for years. Friday’s auction marks the beginning of similar such actions in coming weeks, New Era understands. The bank confirmed yesterday that the two Otjozondjupa farms come under the hammer Friday, in a bid to recover money owed to it. In a media statement yesterday, Agribank CEO Sakaria Nghikembua said the bank exhausted all avenues before arriving at its latest decision. “This is a last resort for us. There is no other option but to execute on the auction,” he said. “The only thing that can stop the process now is payment of the arrears by the clients before the auction date. In the absence of that, the process will go through to the end.” Agribank said the auctions follow hot on the heels of an announcement by the bank that it had moved from soft to a hard collections approach. Nghikembua said that these two auctions should not be viewed in isolation but as part of an ongoing series. He emphasised that if clients persistently fail to honour their loan repayment commitments, the bank will dutifully follow the same route. Nghikembua says Agribank had not only geared its internal structures to implement recovery strategies much faster than in the past but has also bolstered its collections efforts by recently adding new law firms to its legal collection panel. He appealed to clients to act before it is too late, saying: “If a client waits until they are listed or until we have judgement against them, it is too late.” “The best to avoid these two situations is by making repayment commitments and making every effort to honour such commitments,” he said. Previously Disadvantage Namibian Farmers Union (PDNFU) chairperson Jane Kuhanga yesterday told New Era that she was shocked by the bank’s decision to auction farms of defaulters. “We recently had a meeting with the bank and agreed, among others, that we should all avoid using media in this issue. We also agreed that during these negotiations no farms would be auction and no farmers should be listed. This is contrary to what we have agreed upon,” she said. “I am very disappointed in him, all these agreements we had with him had been in vain,” said Kuhanga. “Sakaria is not taking this issue seriously. As a chairperson I am not even informed into this latest development,” she added. Kuhanga said Agribank is not a private bank and its decisions must thus be subject to consultation “We have attempted all channels to be very professional, but our efforts have been in vain. Nghikembua does not give a dam about all this, we are taxpayers and Agribank is a state institution,” she angrily lashed out.
New Era Reporter
2018-07-25 09:11:01 8 months ago