Everyone loses in Witvlei battle - Martin

31 October 2019 | Agriculture

Witvlei Meat chairperson Sydney Martin is questioning why Agribank initially chose to have his company evicted from the Witvlei abattoir and says its closure is not benefitting either of the two parties, the farmers or the economy.

According to him, the other viable option left would be to appeal against last Friday's High Court order that Witvlei Meat be evicted from the abattoir.

In an interview with Namibian Sun, he said instead of another protracted legal battle over the ownership of the facility, it would be better for both parties look for an amicable solution.

Talking about the continued closure, Martin questioned why the abattoir had been taken from Witvlei Meat.

“Why did Agribank take the Witvlei abattoir? What was the motive behind the eviction of Witvlei Meat? Government is telling us to invest and create jobs,” said Martin.

According to Martin, Witvlei Meat had met all the conditions necessary for the purchase of the abattoir from Agribank.

“Guarantees were provided to purchase the abattoir. We heard through the grapevine [at the time] that they wanted a bank guarantee,” said Martin.

“The guarantee was provided, what is the real motive why the guarantee was not accepted?” he asked. He argues that Witvlei Meat's closure has had a ripple effect across the agricultural industry, leading to losses of jobs and export markets. Farmers are bearing the brunt of the abattoir closure, as there is only one other abattoir in operation at the moment.

The only solution in Martin's view is that the two parties resolve the issue without approaching the courts.

Martin said he was opposed to the continued closure of the abattoir.

“The closure does not make any common sense. Witvlei is well placed and there is infrastructure that is not being used,” he said.

According to him, actuarial reviews done in 2015 quantified the impact of the abattoir at N$59 million.

“In 2019 it will be in the region of N$80 million or N$90 million,” said Martin.

“As leaders of the country we have to sit around the table. We will put proposals on the table and they will also put their solutions on the table. The issues could have been solved a long time ago. We are dealing with the courts; a lot of issues can be solved outside that system, we just have to decide on a timeframe where we deal with the issue accordingly,” said Martin.

“We need to apply our minds, [yet] we are fighting each other.”

Meanwhile, Agribank CEO Sakaria Nghikembua has said that there is interest from other parties to buy the abattoir.

“The interest is high. We however have to follow a clear and transparent, open bid process as we move forward,” Nghikembua said.


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