Witvlei residents and the beef quota drama

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WITVLEI – Desperate residents of Witvlei and other parts of the Omaheke Region on Wednesday this week signed a petition demanding the continued operation of the embattled privately owned Witvlei Meat abattoir. This action took place during a meeting of some 350 producers and residents with chairperson of Witvlei Meat, Sydney Martin, and managing director Hendri Bahenhorst on the future of the abattoir after its export quota to Norway for 2014 was cut from 800 tonnes to 300 tonnes. 

Witvlei Meat has already produced and shipped 250 tonnes of beef to Hamburg in Germany where it was kept in cold storage in anticipation of the quota allocation for 2014. Martin and Badenhorst threw open the company’s books by allowing access to all present, saying Witvlei Meat has nothing to hide while Martin called allegations of the company enriching just a few shareholders a “bunch of blatent lies”.

Witvlei Meat said it would continue with the slaughtering of animals and would maintin the current price structures for producers, while investigating various options in the days to come.

One of the options is to go back to the European Union market which the company supplied up to 2010 before it ensured much better prices for its producers by entering the lucrative Norwegian market.

Badenhorst confirmed that Witvlei Meat has been in contact with its ex-partners in the European Union market and was welcomed back with open arms, but warned that exporting to the European Union market would result in lower prices for the Namibian producers, mainly because of the exchange rate of the Euro currency. Another option is to do public listing on the Namibian Stock Exchange and to explore various other options in the export markets.

But it was decided by the meeting that the company should first and foremost explore every option in trying to secure a bigger cut of the quota that was allocated.

Witvlei Meat is currently preparing a new court challenge in which it will dispute the competence of Minister Schlettwein by allocating only 300 tonnes to Witvlei Meat.

The case is expected to be heard in the High Court next week.

By Deon Schlechter

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