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Govt examines Meatco autopsy report

2023-02-27  Edward Mumbuu

Govt examines Meatco autopsy report

The government is analysing a forensic report by a local firm into the state of affairs and viability of the Meat Corporation of Namibia, with a view to secure the long-term sustainability of the beef sector. 

This was revealed by finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi while tabling a comprehensive N$84.6 billion national budget on Wednesday. 

For the 2023-2024 financial year, he allocated N$66.7 million to the cash-strapped entity. 

The revelations come weeks after his immediate predecessor, agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein, proverbially placed the entity in intensive care.

“We recognise the ongoing difficulties at Meatco, and realise the importance of the entity in anchoring the performance of the livestock sub-sector and the economy broadly,” Shiimi said. 

Government has since undertaken an in-depth review and analysis of Meatco’s business strategy, business plan and funding structure. 

“We are interrogating the results and recommendations of the diagnostic report, and will undertake the necessary steps in the interest of securing the long-term sustainability of the sector,” he noted. 

Reacting to what he termed a vague statement, Rally for Democracy and Progress leader Mike Kavekotora called for the report to be laid bare for all to make an independent analysis. 

“Meatco is a very significant player in the agriculture sector. But, I would want to wait and see what exactly they have identified to be the problem with Meatco, hoping that the problems identified will be addressed,” he said shortly after the budget speech was delivered. 

 

Catch-22 

The developments come at a time when Meatco battles to extinguish fires intended for its extinction. 

Chiefly, Meatco’s operations in the northern communal areas (NCAs) face an onslaught after disgruntled previously advantaged commercial farmers approached authorities in Ghana to discontinue importing beef from Namibia which emanates specifically from the NCAs. 

The farmers cited that beef from the NCAs is infected with the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

“It is true,” Meatco CEO Mwilima Mushokabanji confirmed the strange claims recently. 

This is seen as regressive, and is a slap in the face of the government and Meatco’s efforts to create alternative markets for northern farmers, who are locked out of the mainstream beef economy that is only accessible to commercial and communal farmers south of the notorious veterinary cordon fence (VCF). 

“If there is one section that is behaving contrary to that, [then] they are calling for a problem,” was international relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah’s opinion. 

She is also Swapo vice president and the country’s deputy prime minister. 

“They should not be making threats, if it is true that they are undermining that market.

[It means] they are undermining the government’s activities because it is the government that has looked for that market, and now they want to destroy it? We really need to intervene  seriously. 

That [threat] is serious,” she said when contacted.  

Additionally, the same group of farmers has also threatened to stop slaughtering their cattle with Meatco if it does not cease its northern operations. 

They are of the view that Meatco’s business in the NCAs is being sustained by profits generated south of the red line, earnings which should instead be ending up in their pockets. 

The farmers, New Era understands, contribute around 90% of the cattle slaughtered by the corporation annually. 

 

Economic crimes 

Adding his voice to the discourse was Affirmative Repositioning (AR) leader Job Amupanda, who is currently also in court, battling to remove the red line. 

He said when contacted yesterday that the actions by the southern commercial farmers is pure “economic sabotage”. 

Economic sabotage, he charged, is the second-most hideous crime apart from treason that anyone can commit against their country. 

“That crime of economic sabotage
 is no longer just against a particular group of people in the north, blacks in general, and black people north of the red line in particular.

They are actually sabotaging the country because the export is no longer about those commercial farmers. It’s about Meatco, which is a national company. When the meat is bought from the local farmers and has met all criteria, it becomes a product of Meatco, which it in turn exports to gain revenue”, Amupanda asserted. 

“The revenue derived from the sale comes back to the country, and ends up in the national budget. So, they are not sabotaging the northern farmers. They are sabotaging the country,” he went at length to explain, calling on government leaders to show the necessary stamina to avert the situation. 

 

Malicious allegations

A week after New Era broke the story, the ministry of agriculture yesterday issued a statement on the attempts by commercial farmers. 

The agriculture minister expressed dismay at malicious allegations circulating in social media about the safety of Namibian beef products exported from the Northern Communal Area (NCA) abattoirs to Ghana.

“These offensively false and malicious representations were allegedly propagated to Ghanaian authorities by a group of Namibian commercial farmers, whose identity is still unknown to the ministry. However, the ministry is in consultation with the relevant Ghanaian authorities to verify these allegations.” 

The minister said these allegations and efforts to jeopardise market access for Namibian beef into Ghana had been brought to his attention through the Bi-national Commission meeting held in Accra late last year.

“It was resolved that they are groundless and the matter was thus resolved and continued market access for Namibian beef into Ghana remains uninterrupted. We can, thus, confirm that the Namibian beef exports from the Northern Communal Areas do not carry Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and pose no risk of introducing the disease in the market countries in particular the Ghanaian market.”

He said Namibia prides itself as a premier producer and net exporter of free-range quality and disease-free beef products, on the back of world-class veterinary, phytosanitary and food safety standards.  

-emumbuu@nepc.com.na


2023-02-27  Edward Mumbuu

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