Meatco Offers to Buy Witvlei Meat

Meatco says it is ready to take over Witvlei Meat whose 200 workers risk losing their jobs through closure, but government says it continues to monitor the events surrounding the slashed beef export quota that is now threatening the livelihood of nearly 1 000 people.

Government on Friday reached out to and soothed the fears of a begrudged Witvlei Meat management delegation on a visit to Windhoek, underlining the seriousness of the unfolding situation.

Also Friday, Meatco offered immediately to operate the slaughter facility and guarantee the security of all employees engaged at Witvlei abattoir after New Era reported on Friday on the imminent closure of the facility next year.

Witvlei Meat maintains its future is hanging by a thread, depending on the allocation of the beef export quota to Norway for 2015 which is expected to be announced soon. Its export quota to Norway, its biggest market, was heavily cut due to the size and capacity of the company, compared to Meatco which boasts a wider footprint both locally and internationally.

On Friday, the Ministry of Trade and Industry as well as Agriculture, Water and Forestry, and the Meat Board of Namibia hosted separate meetings with the delegation from Witvlei Meat under the leadership of its general manager Ricky Bezuidenhoudt, in Windhoek.

At these meetings, agriculture minister John Mutorwa and his trade counterpart Calle Schlettwein assured the Witvlei delegation that their situation would be looked at within the confines of existing policies.

“The allocation of the quota is not a done deal,” Minister Schlettwein told New Era after his meeting with the Witvlei Meat delegation. “We have listened to the management of Witvlei Meat and I understand their worries and fears of losing their jobs and not being able to provide for employees’ dependants.

“Government won’t stand by idle and allow the situation to deteriorate and hundreds of people lose their jobs. We have policies in place and we won’t renege on our promises to the people. Witvlei Meat must not see the allocation for the 2015 quota as a done deal.”

Schlettwein added: “I still have to receive the final recommendations from the Meat Board and only then will the democratic and transparent process begin to make the final allocation.”

Meatco spokesperson Mario Poolman confirmed to New Era on Friday that the company was ready to take over the slaughter facility of Witvlei Meat immediately.

Poolman however said that Witvlei is known for whipping up emotions by flaunting the plight of their workers in public in order to accumulate sympathy from the authorities.

“It is a well-known strategy of Witvlei’s management to use their employees to garner sympathy and support for an inequitably distributed Norway quota to benefit a privileged few,” Poolman said.

“If Witvlei Meat terminates its operations in the slaughter facility at Witvlei, and exits the lease agreement with Agribank, Meatco will take over the operations but we however reserve the right not to retain their management.”

Meatco’s Board says it has been proven without a doubt that the distribution of the Norway quota, as was done this year by the Meat Board and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, benefits the majority of cattle producers and the Namibian economy as a whole.

Source : New Era