GIPF Defends Sale of KAT

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By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

WINDHOEK

The Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) insists it has consulted stakeholders widely in the sale of the Karas Abattoir and Tannery Processor (KAT) throughout the process to avoid any risks to any party, including KAT directors.

The GIPF reacted in a media release signed by its Chief Executive Officer, Primus Hango, to last Monday’s dismissal of KAT Chairperson Risto Kapenda and fellow KAT directors Vilho Nghipondoka and Maru Tjihumino. The three were dismissed for their apparent dilly-dallying in signing the sale agreement with the buyers, Brukarros Meat Processor (BMP).

Following the three’s removal last Monday, Brian Finlay from Sanlam Namibia Investment Management, who has been GIPF’s advisor in the sale of KAT, and Tega Shiimi, were appointed to KAT’s board of directors after which the sale agreement was signed.

Contrary to the fears of the dismissed KAT directors, the GIPF maintains that the sale agreement “fully protects the rights of the employees” in terms of the laws of Namibia and the agreements between KAT and its employees or their representatives.

“It is the intention of the GIPF to bring the sale process to a speedy and positive conclusion in consultation with all stakeholders, including the employees of KAT,” the GIPF attempted to answer New Era’s question on why the haste in signing the agreement, despite the plea of the former directors for postponement until February 2008.

“It remains the belief of the trustees of the GIPF that Brukarros Meat Processors are the correct party to sell the facility to and that they will run it in a positive and sustainable way,” perhaps further amplifies the urgency of selling.

In terms of concerns of KAT’s former directors, the GIPF refers to the opinion of the advocates advising the directors on various matters relating to KAT and the sale of its assets to BMP.

The GIPF also refers to a “new requirement” concerning “a specific contract” which the KAT directors raised at its meeting with the GIPF on October 27.

The KAT directors, according to the GIPF, demanded that this contract be transferred to the new owner. This, the GIPF maintains, if it agreed to this demand would have “caused the agreement to fail”.

It says because Brukarros could not agree to the new condition, it elected to remove the dismissed KAT directors “to protect its interest and to enable the sale to be concluded”.

The GIPF rationalises KAT’s sale in terms of its need to “mitigate its exposure to further significant losses”. This is, it explains, in view of the Government’s expectation for pension funds in the country to invest in unlisted entities.

Hence the GIPF’s creation of the Development Capital Portfolio (DCP) of which the objectives are the creation of employment opportunities, the stimulation of economic growth and the promotion of economic advancement of the previously disadvantaged communities.

It says it adopted a responsible exit strategy for KAT with the aim of retaining as many of the original DCP objectives; ensuring the continuation and sustainability of projects; maximization of financial return to the GIPF on disposal and enabling the development of a new unlisted investment policy along more appropriate lines.

It says through its DCP investment managers, the Sanlam Investment Management Namibia (SIM), it advertised the sale of KAT, and BMP was the successful bidder out of the five received.

Meanwhile, reacting to the recent happenings surrounding the sale of KAT, Karas Governor and the Chairperson of the Karas Communal Farmers’ Ostrich Trust, David Boois, has complained about what he described as the “unceremonious termination” of the shareholding of the Trust with the changeover from ostrich production to small livestock slaughtering. The trust had shares in Ostrich Production Namibia, forerunner to KAT.

“Nobody told the Karas Regional Council in any formal way as to how the shareholding of Karas Communal Farmers’ Ostrich Trust has ended,” Boois pointed out in a written submission to New Era when approached for comment about the latest events relating to the dismissal of KAT’s board.

“What is disheartening is that even with this change to small stock slaughtering, we were effectively excluded,” he points out, denying knowledge of any attempt by the GIPF to involve the regional council “in any serious way in the development of an industry” in the region. He decried even the absence on the board of any representative from the region.

Boois said when the tender for the sale of KAT went out, a group from the region expressed interest but it was not considered.

“Looking at various projects where GIPF had been involved I cannot help but to conclude that this institution is not interested to help the Government of the Republic of Namibia to develop the people of this region. They have ensured that people from this region are effectively and always excluded,” Boois points out.

He said that the GIPF and others can rest assured that they in the Karas Region would continue to conceive and develop projects and submit them to relevant authorities for consideration.

“But we will not give any official any shareholding which is not ethically and procedurally justified,” he concluded.

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