Agribusdev on life support

… employees not paid in 2021

19 February 2021 | Labour

Kenya Kambowe





RUNDU

Employees of the Agricultural Business Development Agency (Agribusdev) have not received their January salaries and there are no guarantees they will be paid in February either, official documents seen by Namibian Sun show.

Acting managing director Berfine Antindi made it clear to staff members that the company coffers are dry and that she has been engaging the public enterprises ministry since last November regarding the delicate situation.

On Wednesday, she wrote: “Colleagues, my office has informed the shareholder ministries as early as November 2020 and thereafter I have made several written and verbal enquires and follow-ups on the matter”.

She said her office did not receive any confirmation from government on whether any funds would be availed to the embattled agency.

Agribusdev, whose substantive managing director Petrus Uugwanga committed suicide last year, was created to manage and supervise the country’s green schemes profitably and secure the country’s food security. Electricity to its green schemes often gets disconnected for non-payment.



Solution found

Meanwhile, public enterprise minister Leon Jooste yesterday said a solution has been found to deal with the situation.

Responding to an enquiry from Namibian Sun about the current situation at Agribusdev, Jooste yesterday said the ministry is addressing the issue and a solution has been found.

“We are attending to this issue and have identified a solution,” Jooste said.

For years, Agribusdev has been relying on bailouts from government and it is anticipated that the solution Jooste is referring to is another one; however, many have described this as unsustainable.

The minister yesterday indicated that he will meet with his agriculture and finance counterparts Calle Schlettwein and Iipumbu Shiimi to discuss a sustainable solution.

“We have already identified several options,” Jooste said, without revealing details.

Uncertainty

Despite Jooste indicating that solutions have been identified, uncertainty on when workers will be paid still looms large.

Employees yesterday lashed out at the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union and Namibia Public Workers Union for failing to resolve the matter, saying they continue to deduct membership fees while presiding over non-payment of salaries.

“They [the unions] had a meeting with some of our staff members at the head office last week and didn't even feed us back with whatever information they got,” a frustrated employee told Namibian Sun yesterday.

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