Simataa adds fire to defaulting farmers’ case

Information, Communication and Technology minister, Stanley Simataa, has thrown defaulting farmers to the vultures and urged them to pay their outstanding loans to Agribank without making excuses of their disadvantaged background status.

 

The situation has deteriorated against the favour of farmers especially as the bank’s chief executive officer, Sakaria Nghikembua recently issued a warning that it is currently on the way to securing a court order, to begin with auctioning their farms.

 

This comes right in the wake of a recently ended land conference whose major thrust was to accelerate land reform through empowering previously disadvantaged natives.

 

Caught between a rock and a hard place, there have been rumours that the farmers may take their anger to statehouse via a demonstration to halt the auction and strike a favourable deal.

 

Yet some among them, whom The Villager spoke with under the cover of anonymity, are beginning to doubt if demonstrations will have any effect at all.

 

At a recent media engagement where Simataa was breaking down the conference outcome, this publication queried on whether the conference had made any favourable resolutions on how to handle defaulting farmers.

 

He was adamant that they had to pay back the money.

 

“This is my view, as Namibians let’s appreciate. I think that refers to the Affirmative Action Loan Scheme. Remember that fund, administered by Agribank operates as a revolving fund”

 

“You know how a revolving fund operates? They will give you the money but the expectation is that along the way you need to pay back so that what you pay back goes back to the fund to assist the next person in the line.”

 

“So if you don’t honour your obligations usually there are processes and procedures. Even myself, I have a loan with Agribank. If there are difficulties, you know what you have to do? They expect you to engage them so that you can sit down and renegotiate or reschedule your payment,” he said.

 

He said there are so many people in the queue waiting to benefit from the loan and failure to pay back the money will impede the pace at which the land reform process ought to move.

 

“It’s like you going to the shop. You go to Nictus you know, and you buy on higher purchase. You don’t honor that and they repossess. And you want to because I am a disadvantaged person? Ahh aikona, aikona. Kako monyanda kako(You are playing games),” he said.

 

Farmers are aware that the bank’s arrears/loan book ratio now stands at 22%, as at 30 June 2018, above the set benchmark of 15% while its current loan book is N$2.8 billion whilst arrears are at N$618 million.

 

In the meantime, they have grouped themselves into a structured organisation to engage both government and the bank and possibly fight both, in the bid to secure ownership of their farms.