Angry farmers slam Schlettwein as two-faced
Incensed previously disadvantaged farmers have said they are angry with the finance minister, Calle Schlettwein, for showing false support in connection to the current stand-off between them and Agribank.
The farmers, who have hogged limelight for fighting the bank to delist them from ITC after they had defaulted on their loans, have told The Villager that the minister has been pretending to give them a sympathetic ear to their woes only to applaud the bank for putting pressure on them.
Agribank chief executive officer, Sakaria Nghikembua is on record saying that the bank is only performing its mandated function and would not lessen its pressure. The farmers have blamed drought for their failure to make good of their outstanding loans.
What has made the situation worse is that Schlettwein has, up to now, not responded to the farmers’ petition which they lodged three months ago requesting for his office to save their farms from repossession, they said.
The farmers have said the minister came out to show his true colours and demonstrated that he is siding with the bank when recently at an official opening ceremony of an Agribank Gobabis satellite office he committed to give the bank support in arear collections, “since these were loans that were advanced to clients and they need to pay back.”
Some farmers have alleged that the minister said Agribank was not a charity.
“No farmer said Agribank is a charity organisation. Never! No farmer said we wont pay. Never! So to us it was weird why Calle should use such a statement,” said one of the farmers speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The Villager was presented with an audio recording of the minister’s remarks taken by Omaheke Radio in which he said, “I must therefore applaud the bank for embarking upon the arear collection strategy as part of its financial sustainable initiative and ensuring liquidity to serve more and more clients.”
“If we don’t collect, we will have not an ability to grow, we will grow smaller and smaller and we will be able to help less and less so repaying is a corner stone in banking business. I am aware that this strategy was not well received by some of the bank’s clients who made their feelings known through various public platforms.”
The farmers have said Schlettwein appeared to have given them a sympathetic ear at a meeting in September of last year in which he “agreed with the issues that we were raising.”
“For him to come and make such a bold statement is uncalled for. Now its clear why Sakaria is acting the way he is acting. He’s got Calle’s backing. So Calle is lying to us. We now feel Calle is playing a racial game,” the farmers have said.
They have also accused the minister of being responsible for blacklisting and gunning for the repossession of their farms.
The farmers have also called on President Hage Geingob, whom they say had given the minister an order to resolve the issue, to call him to order.
The minister was not reachable until the time for publication and questions sent to him via sms were not responded to.