Divided we fall: ‘Factionalism’ blamed for Meatco resignations

01 June 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

Alleged deep-seated divisions among Meatco board members – including lack of consensus on opening opportunities to do business in the northern communal areas (NCAs) – have been attributed to resignations of three board members on Friday, including its chairperson and his deputy.

There was also a failed attempt to haul the company’s CEO Mwilima Mushokabanji before a disciplinary hearing for allegedly embarking on a scouting trip to the NCAs without approval of his board principals.

Meatco board chairperson Johnnie Hamman, vice-chairperson Clara Bohitile and Kay Dieter Rumpf, a director of the board, have all presented their letters of resignation to public enterprises minister Leon Jooste.

The trio confirmed their resignation in a skimpy public statement they co-issued yesterday.

Namibian Sun now understands that the board, which by its nature is appointed to serve different interest groups, was deeply divided on where the company should do business, among other issues where consensus lacked.

“Basically, the board is divided. There’s a feeling from some communities that their interest is being pushed to the edge while those of others are being elevated to the top,” a board member said in confidence.

“The board was also divided on the number of cattle to be procured by Meatco, with some feeling that the number was unrealistically too high. Some board members refused to sign performance agreements with the minister because of this.”

Meanwhile, speculation is rife that there are farmers who intend to establish their own company with a business model similar to Meatco’s because they don’t feel their interest is fully represented.

‘Unrealistic’ targets

Jooste yesterday told Namibian Sun that performance agreements couldn’t be signed with board directors because of ‘unrealistic’ targets in the company’s strategic business plan.

“Performance agreements with board members can only be concluded once the integrated strategic business plan is approved since the key performance indicators must be aligned to that. I referred the [business plan] back to Meatco due to unrealistic projections and I am awaiting an updated version,” the minister said.

Regarding the leadership vacuum left by the resignations, Jooste said: “We will follow the provisions of the Public Enterprises Act to address the situation”.

Hamman and Rumpf presented their letters of resignation to Jooste with immediate effect on Friday, while Bohitile informed Jooste about her immediate resignation on Sunday.

According to them, their resignations followed the board’s substantive meeting last Thursday.

“The directors resigned due to material unreconciled differences with the management and the rest of the board,” they said.

Hamman wrote in his resignation letter: “Regretfully, I am convinced that I have reached the stage, not only as chairperson of the board of directors but also in my capacity as a director of Meatco, that the current position I find myself in has become untenable to serve any longer on the board of directors”.

Rumph wrote that as the commercial elected representative, he found it difficult to full his fiduciary duties and responsibilities any longer as he believes that to continue to be part of the board any further could compromise this.