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Row erupts over beef company ownership – Business Leaders

August 10, 2012 No Comments »

A war of words has broken out between Namibia’s livestock farmers and the Government over the future ownership of Meatco, the country’s biggest exporter of prime beef.

The farmers are opposed to the 30 percent Government shareholding in a new Meatco, profit-sharing by Government and regional representation on the Board of Directors.

However, Agriculture Minister John Mutorwa today warned producers that there will be serious consequences should they not give their co-operation.

He said: “The envisaged co-operative and meat trading will be established through laws that will be passed through Parliament with or without those vocal minorities, who are so allergic about hearing the name Government of the Republic of Namibia.”

At a general meeting  of about 300 farmers last Friday, the farmers also aired their views on the impact of the Cabinet’s decision on the country’s free market economic principles.

They cited an example of the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) owned by the Government of Botswana. BMC incurred losses over the past two years amounting to 400 million Pula and those losses were absorbed by the Government.  Namibia’s famers argued that BMC lost its EU export status which resulted in the livestock industry virtually collapsing.

They have also accused the Cabinet of a lack of proper communication, an allegation which was refuted by the minister who said: “It is no true to say that the minister has not provided any feedback  on this proposal.”

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The farmers expressed their disappointment with the non-transparent process through which the Ministry developed the final proposal that was submitted to Cabinet.

A call has been made for Meatco to broaden its scope of consultations and approach President Hifikepunye Pohamba to appeal to Cabinet to accept the industry stakeholder group’s proposal, which does not provide for government shareholding.

The proposal was compiled by the Namibia National Farmers Union, Namibia Emerging Commercial Farmers’ Union, Namibia Agricultural Union, Meatco members and the Meatco Board and Management.

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