Ministry mulls appeal

The agriculture ministry is weighing up its options and has not decided whether to appeal a High Court ruling which said the current Meatco board was illegally appointed.

17 December 2018 | Agriculture

The agriculture ministry is yet to decide whether it will appeal a High Court ruling that found the appointment of the six-member Meatco board by former minister John Mutorwa to be unlawful.

According to current agriculture minister Alpheus !Naruseb the court has given the ministry leeway to decide whether it wants to appeal and they are receiving legal advice from the government attorney's office on the way forward.

He said the current board will stay in place, as it has not been declared null and void.

The High Court recently ruled that the board's appointment on 16 February last year was in conflict with the Meatco Act, the Public Enterprises Governance Act and the Namibian Constitution.

The court application was brought by five farmers - Amon Ngavetene, Alia Fasa Kandjii, Peter Kazongominja, Gottfriedt Tsuseb and Tjakazapi Janson Mbunguha.

The board consists of Namundjebo-Tilahun (chairman), Ronald Kubas, Sophia Kasheeta, Ismael Ngangane, Fanie Oosthuizen and Mushokobanji Mwilima.

Mutorwa had extended their term until 2020.

Only Oosthuizen and Mwilima were new to the board, while the other four served on the previous one, whose term of office ended in September 2016.

The board members, Mutorwa and public enterprises minister Leon Jooste were listed as respondents in the matter.

Judge Hosea Angula ruled that those who opposed the application should pay the costs.

In his judgement, Angula found that Mutorwa failed to give the affected persons an opportunity to be heard before making his decision, and that he further did not act fairly or transparently when he made the board appointments.

“It is clear that the minister's insistence on the unwarranted adherence to fixed principles and his strict observance of formal communication channels and protocols, under those circumstances, was grossly unreasonable,” Angula said.

Mutorwa appointed the board in December 2016 on a temporary basis to serve for six months, prompting then Meatco CEO Vekuii Rukoro to challenge their appointment in court.

The temporary board members, who took up their seats on 4 January 2017, were to serve for only six months, but were later appointed permanently for a three-year term by cabinet, after the High Court ruled that Meatco Act does not provide for the appointment of a temporary board of directors, or their appointment for a period of six months only.

Ngavetene alleged in an affidavit that in terms of the Meatco Act or the Public Enterprises Governance Act, Mutorwa had no power to appoint a new board on 16 February 2017, as the temporary board was still in place until its appointment was set aside by the High Court on 15 March last year.

He also alleged the directors were appointed contrary to the Meatco Act, after Mutorwa failed consider nominations from Meatco members. According to Ngavetene, Mutorwa “simply ignored” the nominations sent to him before he appointed the board in February last year.



ELLANIE SMIT

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