Rukoro's Ozetu is an 'idle threat'

An agricultural expert says the proposal is lacking in substance.

09 April 2019 | Agriculture

The Ovaherero Traditional Authority's (OTA's) attempt to dethrone the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) as the go-to meat processing and marketing entity has been described as an idle threat by a local agricultural economist.

The OTA recently announced plans to establish an abattoir, a feedlot and an auction business through a company called Ozetu Holdings.

Ovaherero paramount chief Vekuii Rukoro's face appears on a presentation prepared by the holding company to entice communal cattle farmers.

“The time of breaking our backs [from] January to December for the sole purpose of enriching and prospering buyers is up. Times are shifting, we are entering the 'by us, for us' era,” the document states.

“The time is now for us to start fuelling the vehicle that will take us to the 'promised land'. That vehicle is Ozetu Holdings,” it adds.

The company intends to set up a central production site, a feedlot and an abattoir in the hope of achieving a 50% meat processing market share and at least 10% of all meat exports

In an interview with Confidente in 2017, Rukoro said Ovaherero farmers accounted for a significant portion of the country's livestock sector.

“As you know, the Ovaherero are cattle people and 52% of the cattle marketed by Namibians leave this country on the hoof to South Africa as weaners. These weaners are marketed by farmers in communal areas,” Rukoro said at the time.

“I don't know if whether you have seen messages on social media from angry Ovaherero saying that Meatco will end up slaughtering dogs for what it has done to the paramount chief,” he added.

Rukoro was a former CEO of Meatco. In 2017, Meatco paid Rukoro N$3 million to avoid being dragged to court. Rukoro had threatened to take Meatco to court for defamation after they wrongfully charged and suspended him earlier that year on allegations of conflict of interest by being the Ovaherero paramount chief while he was the CEO. Agricultural economist Wallie Roux has doubts about the feasibility of Ozetu's plan.

“On paper the concept has relevancy, albeit from the presentation there is not much detail for analysis. What the presentation says about the middlemen is applicable to the situation on the ground.

“However, even making relevant statements without concrete proposals how to better or rectify the situation is not a guarantee that it will eventually work in practice,” he commented.

An auction business could prove to be a feasible undertaking though, Roux said.

“I am not sure what is meant by a 'central production site' given the different target areas identified, but the auctioneering body could be a feasible concept given that the Ovaherero farmers are known for producing weaners,” he said.

“The plans for a feedlot and abattoir at this point in time would rather be a vision and mission than a concrete proposal,” he said.

Time will tell whether Ozetu could become a cash cow for the OTA, Roux added.

“The list of identified economic sectors seems too vast for all to be realised within the foreseeable future. In conclusion, one would have to wait and see,” he said.


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