NAMIBIA – Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco), a state-owned meat processing and marketing entity, is reportedly on its last leg with stakeholders fearing the liquidation of the company.
In a staff briefing, the Minister of Agriculture Calle Schlettwein recently described the entity as a dying cow in the ICU saying that the government will soon have to make a decision regarding the closure of the organization.
His statement comes at a time when the corporation has been on a financial decline phase that has seen it dissolve the northern communal area (NCA) subsidiary, leaving the northern farmers without a market.
According to economist Rainer Ritter, Meatco had only slaughtered 35, 127 cattle from the area south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence in 2021/22, instead of the 60, 000 the company had budgeted for.
According to him, the significant budget deviation was a clear sign that Meatco was plagued by “unrealistic budget optimism”, and that its representatives seemingly did not realize that the company was losing market share in a competitive environment.
Meatco has also been accused by the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) of sidelining communal farmers south and north of the cordon fence.
The union said farmers who are members of Meatco have raised concerns with union leadership regarding the entity.
The Namibian Farmers Union (NNFU) asserts that the sustainability of Meatco is uncertain with an increase in poor management and performance.
However, Mwilima Mushokabanji, the CEO of Meatco said that he does not agree with Schlettwein and that the organization is doing quite well.
He notes that the corporation was focused on repaying all its debt with commercial banks in the past few years, which according to him poses Meatco’s biggest challenge.
In a recent press conference, Mushokabanji announced that the company recently came up with a robust strategy to pay off its outstanding debt of N$250 million (US$16.79m) from FNB Namibia and another N$94 million (US$ 6.31) to Bank Windhoek.
“I would like to report that currently all historic debts with commercial banks are paid off,” Mushokabanji said.
He also said that Meatco had managed to establish lucrative markets in Ghana, China, Angola and the United Kingdom with the hopes of expanding Namibia’s beef export to the Middle East as well.
Mushokabanji added that the liquidation talk was quite premature, a statement that was echoed by Amon Kapi, the acting president of the NNFU, saying that the bleeding parastatal must be rescued, by any means necessary.
“We must look for ways to rescue Meatco as liquidation is not an option, we all know that over the years, things were working at Meatco, and it never asked for government bailouts. So, it’s too soon to have that discussion,” he cautioned.
“Meatco is the only public livestock market for the farmers, and we cannot allow the organization to go down the drain. We cannot allow our farmers to suffer because of poor management and lack of integrity.”
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