The purpose of this media response is to provide more factual information to some of the issues mentioned in the article. This is to benefit the general public but also that of the journalist. We shall attempt to do this factually and emotionless without being drawn into an endless scuffling.
The article stated that:
1. The Annual General Meeting (AGM) ended on a controversial note where most of the board being at loggerheads with management and a section of producers.
2. It also went on further to state that part of the fight at the 2015 AGM has got to do with a resolution pushed by management and producers who pushed for Meatco to disaffiliate from government and do away with schemes that benefit Northern Communal Area (NCA) farmers.
Meatco’s response is as follows:
1. It must be mentioned upfront that the decision to communicate the AGM resolutions is the prerogative of the Meatco Board Chairperson in her capacity as chairperson of the AGM. However, for purposes of clarification and in the public interest we will quote some parts of the AGM motions and resolutions.
As far as Meatco is concerned the 2015 AGM did not end on a controversial note as alleged. All Meatco members were at liberty to deliberate the annual report as provided for in Section 23 of the Meatco Act. Members have the rights to make written recommendations, deliberate and make resolutions to the board. As you have in any membership organisation, there are divergent views amongst members pertaining to certain issues. In our view the AGM was normal by any standard and far from controversy as stated in the article.
It is alleged that “most of the board were at loggerheads with management”. Who are these board members and in which respect were they at loggerheads with management? This is a factual inaccuracy a only two board members were at any given time opposed to the views advanced by producers including the CEO who spoke in his capacity a a producer.
2. The motion that a Meatco member proposed for discussion as per section 23 of the Meatco Act is about financial sustainability of Meatco’s operations in the Northern Communal Areas (NCA). This motion culminated in an AGM resolution requesting management through the board to develop strategies to manage Meatco financial losses in the Northern Communal Areas (NCA). Meatco over the years has been on record about its financial losses in the NCA. In the last financial year these losses have escalated to over N$44 million in one year as contained in our 2014/2015 annual report. It must be further stated, that these losses since 1992 were carried by Meatco producers only, those marketing cattle to our abattoirs south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF). The escalation of losses over the years has become unbearable and unsustainable. This situation prompted the Meatco producers to propose a motion at the AGM. The motion never solicited a position for Meatco to withdraw from the NCA or disaffiliate from Government as wrongly stated in the article. For the benefit of the writer and the readers we hereby quote some relevant part the motion presented at the AGM per verbatim:
• That, as a matter of urgency, the members instruct the Board and Management o re-assess the Corporation’s overall involvement in slaughtering, processing and marketing activities within the NCA with the aim of reducing operational losses resulting from such activities to levels which are financially and economically acceptable; and
• That, as a matter of urgency, members instruct the Board and Management to reconsider the Corporation’s overall engagement in any abattoir activities within the NCA and to consider alternative methods of continuing to contribute meaningfully to the social-economic development and upliftment of the NCA and its people.
In this regard, management started to develop a few options that as a matter of principle are in line with the objectives of the Meatco Act which is 1) “to serve, promote and co-ordinate the interest of the producers of livestock in Namibia, and to strive for the stabilization of the meat industry of Namibia in the national interest 2) to rationalize abattoirs and related factory activities and conduct and manage such business in an orderly, economical and efficient manner. It is in the latter spirit of the second objective as quoted above that the preferred option should also consider reducing Meatco’s financial losses in the NCA. With this in mind, management proposed some options to the Board. The Board deliberated on those options at their last meeting held on 13 August 2015, and took a principle decision to support the option that allows Meatco to continue serving the NCA farmers by bringing slaughtering services closer to farmers while at the same time addressing the operational losses. Meatco at this point in time is not at liberty to divulge the content of our strategy as it is still to be approved by the board. What we can say with certainty is that the strategy addresses the needs of our NCA producers and their unique circumstances. Therefore, it is a fact: Meatco will continue with its presence as per its mandate in the NCA by providing slaughtering services for our farmers who are traveling long distances to market their cattle. Simultaneously the envisaged strategy will aim to reduce our operational losses to sustainable levels as directed by members through the AGM resolution.