Suspended Meatco CEO, Vekuii Rukoro, did not instigate Otjiherero-speaking producers to disrupt last week’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Windhoek, which ended in chaos, Amon Ngavetene, one of the producers told the Windhoek Observer.
Ngavetene said those who do not want to admit that the board is illegal are trying to bring in tribalism into this issue.
“Our issue is purely legal, questioning the legality of the board based on the actions of the minister.”
Ngavetene denied that Rukoro had instigated fellow Otjiherero-speaking producers to disrupt last week’s meeting.
“We don’t understand why an issue which is purely of a legal nature is now being made a tribal issue,” he said. “The producers are producers because they are independent individuals. They know what is best for them. They farm on their own; they don’t get advice from Rukoro. Rukoro doesn’t visit them on their farms. Rukoro doesn’t pay for their farms. Rukoro doesn’t pay for their workers, fodder and vaccinations. So, if there is a threat to their interests, why should they be instigated by Rukoro,” he said.
He said the whole saga was instigated by the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa and Meatco Board Chairperson Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun.
Ngavetene explained that a special members’ meeting was called last year where members were expected to nominate board candidates for selection by the minister.
But this meeting was cancelled after a difference of opinion on whether the chairperson has the power to cancel the AGM on the day of the meeting.
A motion was moved where members opted to proceed with the meeting against the wishes of some board members at the time.
During that meeting, the members voted for the nomination of the candidates for selection to the board as per the minister’s request.
“The names were duly submitted to the minister where nothing came from this nomination. Instead, the minister opted to extend the period of the existing board at that time. This action was challenged in court and ruled unlawful earlier this year,” he said.
A local daily quoted Mutorwa this week saying there is nothing illegal about the Meatco Board, as its appointment was done within the provisions of the Meatco Act.
He said the appointment of the board was done after thorough consultations with the Ministry of Public Enterprises, as well as the Attorney General. According to a copy of resolutions made by producers obtained from Ngavetene, Meatco members have given President Hage Geingob two months to address the management crisis at the meat processing and marketing company.
The producers argued that the current board of directors that was appointed by Mutorwa is illegal.
In May, the board suspended Rukoro for an indefinite period, alleging that his actions had led to the company losing N$300,000.
At the end of the contentious meeting, the members said they will “generously grant a period of two months to the Office of the President to address this Meatco situation with urgency, failing which the members will re-convene in two months’ time from today to decide on specific actions”.
The members also requested the Minister of Public Enterprises, Leon Jooste, to handover the resolution to President Geingob with the following expectations:
“The President should restore normality in Meatco by instructing the Attorney General to bring an urgent amendment to both the Meatco Act and the SOE Governance Act to enable Minister Leon Jooste to appoint a new board.
“That His Excellency (Geingob) ensures the immediate and full implementation of the Cabinet decision of last year, which directed that Meatco henceforth shall resort under the Ministry of Public Enterprises as per the Cabinet decision on the Hybrid System of last year 2016.”
But Jooste told the Windhoek Observer this week that the resolution has not been handed over to him. “I have only read this in the papers. I have not received anything yet.”
He said Meatco will be transferred from the agriculture ministry to the public enterprise ministry when the Meatco Act is amended later this year.