Meatco producers have requested the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Alpheus !Naruseb, to consider dissolving the Meatco board and restart the nomination and appointment process as soon as possible.
The producers’ demands are contained in an amended motion which they were prevented from presenting at last month’s Annual General Meeting.
Their demands come at a time when the meat processing and marketing company is experiencing reduced cattle slaughter numbers and cash flow challenges.
Last month, the company sent out a notice to producers, announcing the closure of its regional service offices.
“Meatco has re-evaluated its business model and operating structure due to the constant decline in cattle numbers and financial constraints currently faced by the company,” the company said in the notice, adding that it had centralised all its operations to the Head Office and the Windhoek Factory in Windhoek.
Meatco members blame the company’s deteriorating financial position on the board.
The company recently offered voluntary early retirement for all employees who are 55 years old and above and an option for voluntary retrenchment with a severance package of two week’s pay for each completed year of service.
Meatco also announced that salary increments going forward would be performance-based in accordance with the Meatco Act.
Sources also claimed this week that Meatco had retrenched all its temporary employees last week due to the limited cattle numbers available for slaughter.
In another motion which the members managed to table, they expressed extreme disappointment with what they called the non-transparent manner in which the board interacted with them and the ineffective manner in which members' interests were generally served.
They also expressed disappointment with the deterioration of Meatco's business efficiency and competiveness under the control of the current board, to the extent that its existence is in danger.
They have since requested the board to provide them with a strategy and practical steps to restore trust in them while also requesting the board to come up with a turnaround strategy in order to make the business internationally competitive.
According to the members, past board actions have cast doubt on the efficiency and effectiveness of its corporate governance, procedures and processes.
The Windhoek Observer recently reported that Meatco board was weighing down the company after background checks carried out by Barclays Bank UK showed that it had raised red flags on Chairperson of the Board, Martha Namunjebo-Tilahun, Vice Chairperson Ronald Kubas as well as co-opted board member Edwin Beukes.
The background checks were part of an exercise to determine whether the company was eligible to open a bank account with the UK based lender.
Figures released at the AGM show that the Meatco Group recorded revenue of N$1.4 billion during 2017 with a net loss of N$51.2 million.
Revenue decreased by 15.9 percent year-on-year, mainly due to the lower number of cattle slaughtered (10.45 percent) and the strengthening of the Namibia dollar against major foreign currencies.
Meatco, however, paid N$899.8 million to producers, which was 20 percent more than the previous year's figure of N$750 million.
The board has continued in its appointed duties despite several objections that it was illegally constituted.
In December 2016, former agriculture minister, John Mutorwa, announced the appointment of a temporary board to serve for six months, prompting the parastatal's (then) CEO, Vekuii Rukoro, to unsuccessfully challenge the appointment in court.
The temporary board members, who took up their seats on 4 January 2017, were originally set to serve for only six months and were then officially appointed for a full three-year term by Cabinet.
!Naruseb was not available for comment by the time of going to print.