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Schlettwein Calls Meatco Backlash “Racist”

By:Staff Writer
Minister of agriculture, water and land reform, Calle Schlettwein has expressed disappointment in some comments on the Meatco debate he initiated last week.
This comes after some members of the public linked Schlettwein’s utterances to an alleged agenda aimed at killing Meatco in a bid to advance the interests of privately owned abattoirs.
The minister has been accused by some members of the public of initiating dialogue on Meatco as a means to spur on potential privatisation.
Among those who have accused Schlettwein of defaming Meatco for the interest of white farmers is former Swapo deputy minister James Sankwasa.
Sankwasa, in a now-viral WhatsApp post, accused white farmers of establishing Savanna Beef to counter Meatco, claiming they were refusing to share the economic cake in the meat industry with black Namibians.
“Now that Meatco opened a subsidiary company to also cater to the black communal farmers suddenly it must not be subvented by government. But we are being told Meatco is now suffering from mismanagement as we were being fooled in the case of Air Namibia,” Sankwasa posted.
While not directly mentioning Schlettwein by name, Sankwasa also said the same strategy employed in the Air Namibia saga was being used to destroy Meatco.
“Air Namibia was weekly if not daily in the media about mismanagement yet it was a strategy to liquidate it so it could pave the way for their own airline.”
Responding to some of these comments, the minister took to his official Facebook page, claiming the discussion on “Meatco fortunes” has taken a “racial direction”.
Insisting on his initial stance, Schlettwein urged the public to maintain focus on the “worrisome” state of Meatco, as it is pivotal to the Namibian livestock sector. He stated that Meatco is not improving despite using a Development Bank loan to service debts held with two commercial banks.
Meanwhile, Meatco CEO Mwilima Mushokobanji on Friday said the minister’s views on Meatco were not accurate, adding that the public enterprise is not in as bad a shape as described in the media.
Last week, Mushokabanjiexplained that the livestock sectoris just recovering from the worst drought of 2019/20 which reduced the number of cattle available for slaughter in the country.
He said during the drought, most farmers converted their cattle into cash to avoid losses, and head recovery takes time for a country that does not use any hormonal growth.
“As a result of the drought, the farmers needed two to four years to build their heads depending on the quality of grading. After buying up the drought-forced sale animals (around 116 000) in 2019, from 2020 to 2021 the company started to experience throughput issues, which reduced the supply of raw material to Meatco leading to Meatco slaughtering on average 35 000 cattle,” the CEO explained.

Staff Writer

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