The Meatco board has charged suspended Chief Executive Officer, Advocate Vekuii Rukoro, following an investigation it instituted against him as head of the meat processing and marketing company.
Meatco Chairperson, Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun, confirmed the development this week, but refused to reveal details of the charges and the scope of the investigation. “I cannot comment further other than to say he has been charged and he was served with the charges,” Namundjebo-Tilahun told the Windhoek Observer. Company lawyer, Amupanda Khamanya, said Rukoro will appear before a disciplinary committee to answer to charges laid against him, without giving specifics on the charges or dates. “I am not at liberty to share that information except to say that he has been formally charged and has been served with the charges. The first suspension had lapsed and now he has been suspended again pending a disciplinary hearing. And the hearing will be held shortly,” Khamanya said. Quizzed on reports that Rukoro could be heading back to his office in the Northern industry, Khamanya said the move will be in violation of his suspension. “He cannot go to the office, as that is part of the conditions of his suspension.” He, however, said Rukoro will still draw his salary and benefits until the finalisation of the protracted matter, which has pitted the Advocate against the Meatco board. “He remains entitled to his benefits. It’s not a punitive suspension, thus he still retains his benefits,” Khamanya said. Rukoro was placed on forced leave in May pending the now completed investigation. When contact for comment, the Meatco executive referred this newspaper to his lawyer, Jefta Tjitemisa, who professed ignorance on the charges that have been laid on his client. “He has not been charged and as far as we are concerned, there are no charges,” Tjitemisa maintained. Speaking at the company’s 31st Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in June, Namundjebo-Tilahun said the company had expanded the scope of its investigation into other areas of concern that emanated during the course of the investigation. Tempers flared during the contentious AGM with members questioning the legitimacy of the company’s board of directors following their appointment by Agriculture, Water and Forestry Minister John Mutorwa. The minister appointed the board on a temporary basis in December last year before announcing earlier this year that the board will serve a full three-year term until 2020. The Meatco board has on numerous occasions clashed with the Rukoro-led executive, including a spat over how to handle the closure of the Okapuka feedlot, which was closed last year after the detection of Zeranol, a banned substance, in one of the urine samples collected from some cattle. The closure of the feedlot is said to have cost the company over N$40 million. The board has also previously tried to have Rukoro suspended and eventually fired, only for Public Enterprises Minister, Leon Jooste, to come to his rescue after he announced that his ministry, which is charged with supervising the operations of public enterprises, will no longer tolerate suspensions of parastatal heads as the first step to reconciling issues within an SOE.