Windhoek-Trustco owner and farmer Quinton van Rooyen has warned that if tribalism haunting the national red meat flagship Meatco is not nipped in the bud, the company would collapse to the detriment of the national economy.
He described Meatco as a national asset and a valuable foreign currency earner for Namibia.
Van Rooyen made the remarks while giving a motivational speech at the acrimonious Meatco annual general meeting held on Friday in Windhoek. Van Rooyen expressed his disappointment with the deep undercurrents of tribalism and factional politics running through a national asset.
“Division and tribalism will lead the billion-dollar asset to the slaughterhouse and self-destruction in a country where failed SOEs have already robbed Namibians of countless opportunities and will lead Meatco down the path of failure,” Van Rooyen warned.
“Even more disappointing is to notice the naked animosity between a farming community, the board and the management who are entrusted to represent Namibia in the international consumer market with a unique and world-class meat product, while an efficient Meatco should be the unifying factor amongst stakeholders.”
The Meatco AGM got off to a stormy start at the Wanderers sports grounds with a motion to discuss constitutional matters even before the agenda could start.
After much debate – fuelled mainly by farmers from the Omaheke Region who are mostly subjects of suspended Meatco CEO Vekuii Rukoro – the agenda had to be put to the vote, not only for inclusion, but also in an effort to propel it to the top of the list.
Van Rooyen put his prepared speech aside after expressing disappointment with the tone of the debate amongst the various camps and said as long as the meat corporation cannot get its house in order Namibia’s exports would falter.
He remarked that it is difficult for him to motivate people that are already motivated and passionate about their industry, but implored members not to focus on what divides them, but rather what they agree upon as farmers and business people who are uniquely placed to create jobs and wealth for the nation.
The chairperson of the Meatco board, Martha Tilahun-Namundjebo, at times had to control her frustration as the suspension of Rukoro soiled proceedings.
Rukoro was present at the AGM as a farmer but not as an official of Meatco. Van Rooyen warned that tribal and racial stereotyping cannot be tolerated a day longer in Namibia as it betrays the right of citizens for equality and justice.
Those with a tribal agenda should be named, shamed and isolated from the society of Namibians with good nationalist intentions, he said.