Agribusdev workers living in fear

Plans by government to dissolve the parastatal tasked to ensure food security in the country is causing anxiety amongst the entity’s workers who face pay cuts or job losses if Cabinet gives its blessing.

15 June 2021 | Agriculture

OGONE TLHAGE







WINDHOEK

Workers at the troubled parastatal mandated to manage the country’s green schemes are in panic, with some indicating that the uncertainty regarding the future of the company has left many fearing the worst.

Agribusdev staffers were last week informed that there are plans to shut down the company and staff will be absorbed by the agriculture ministry.

This is despite public denials by the ministry’s executive director, Percy Misika, that there are plans to close the company.

Agribusdev staff members who spoke to Namibian Sun said they were informed of the planned closure in a Zoom meeting.

They said they could not ask questions about the transition, or about their future employment.

“We cannot plan for our future because we do not know if we will have jobs or not. We understand there are plans to transfer us to the ministry where managers will be expected to take pay cuts and settle for lesser paying jobs,” said an employee who refused to be named.

Another worker said “the lack of consultation shows how little the shareholder thinks of us”.

Namibian Sun understands the agriculture minister made a submission to Cabinet pushing for the company to be dissolved.

This was confirmed by public enterprise minister Leon Jooste yesterday.

“The item was submitted to Cabinet by the ministry and referred to the Cabinet Committee on Treasury for further discussions. I will only be able to respond once that process has concluded,” he said.

Miserable memo

Agribusdev acting managing director Berfine Antindi announced the closure of the company to staff members in an internal memo last Friday.

“This memo serves to inform all farm managers that the company will be dissolved. The news came from the executive director of the ministry of agriculture yesterday, 10 June 2021. The time when this new development will be implemented is not yet known,” Antindi told staff.

Antindi informed them that they would be offered posts at the ministry.

“The staff members at the head office, as well as the agronomists, human resource assistants, accountants at the projects and technical staff at the Rundu ATC will be offered appointments within the ministry of agriculture.

“The rest of the staff members at the projects will not be affected by the change,” Antindi said.

Denial

Two days after Antindi announced the planned closure, Misika denied the development and said no decision had been taken regarding Agribusdev’s future.

“The media will be informed. It is still internal consultations,” he said upon enquiry on Sunday.

For years, Agribusdev has been relying on government bailouts. In January, the parastatal failed to pay the salaries of its employees while NamPower cut electricity supply to its green schemes in April.

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