Meatco manager awards tender to father …Acting CEO also caught up in conflict of interest storm

17 August 2018 Author   Kaula Nhongo
Senior Meatco managers including Acting Chief Executive Officer, Jannie Breytenbach, have been caught in the middle of a conflict of interest storm after allegations surfaced that a multi-million dollar grass supply tender was awarded to Breytenbach’s brother-in-law,
Gunter Kahl, who is also father to the feed superintendent.
Allegations are that the feed superintendent, Cornelia Kahl, by-passed Meatco procurement policies and regulations when awarding tenders to Ekundi Farming and Transport, a multi-million dollar company belonging to her father, Gunter.
Sources at Meatco say Ekundi Farming has been supplying the Okapuko Feedlot with bulk bales of grass since 2017 despite complaints of favouritism from other farmers.
The tender is said to be worth N$60 million per year.
The Windhoek Observer is in possession of a letter from one of the farmers addressed to Meatco Board Chairperson, Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun, exposing the favouritism at Okapuko Feedlot.
In the letter, Gabriel Goraseb requested Namundjebo-Tilahun to investigate the matter as he believes that his company, Kaputu Maintenance Products, was being unfairly treated.
Goraseb alleged that his company was contracted in 2014 to supply between 250 and 295kgs of grass, but that changed in May last year when Cornelia was appointed head of procurement.
Instead of supplying 15 grass loads per year, Goraseb claims that the quantity was reduced to just five while Kahl’s load was increased.
“Since then, she started giving me fewer loads. For example, we would agree on 10 loads per month, but she would later tell me to supply only three grass loads and the reasons were never consistent.
“I was disturbed after my own investigations uncovered that one of the big suppliers is Gunther Kahl from Karlfeldt/Omaruru.
“The same story continued this year…and that is affecting my business while Kahl continues to receive the biggest chunk of orders for deliveries to the Okapuko Feedlot,” Goraseb said.
The farmer said he complained about this last year and went as far as the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), where he was told to lodge a complaint at Meatco.
Namunjebo-Tilahun is said to have instructed Breytenbach to investigate the issue, but sources say Breytenbach also has a conflict of interest in this case as he is uncle to Cornelia and brother-in-law to her father.
Breytenbach confirmed receiving the letter from Goraseb, but said he had recused himself from the investigations.
“Yes, Meatco received a complaint for “Unfair allocation and procurement of grass bales at the Okapuka feedlot” on the 9th of August 2018.  The letter was addressed to the Chairperson of the Meatco Board and a copy to myself.
“Upon receiving the complaint, I informed the colleagues that I am conflicted therefore I cannot be involved in the process and that the head of procurement will lead the investigations as per the Public Procurement Act,” he stated.
He added that the Internal Audit Department, which is independent of management and reports directly to the Audit Committee, would be involved in the investigations.
“As good practice, Meatco, under my signature, wrote a letter back on 09 August 2018, to inform the complainant that his letter was received and that Meatco will investigate the allegations.  Currently, the colleagues are busy with the investigation, the final report will be presented directly to the Meatco Chair and Meatco board after which the finding will be shared in writing to the complainant,” Breytenbach said.
Cornelia was not available for comment by the time of going to print as she was said to be on leave.
The Meatco Okapuka Feedlot has 106 pens, and can stocks up to 99,200 head of cattle at any time.
These animals are kept and fed at the facility for a period of 90 days before slaughter.

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The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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