AgriBusDev struggles to pay workers

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Matheus Hamutenya

Keetmanshoop-The Agriculture Business Development Agency (AgriBusDev) is struggling to honour its monthly salary commitment to its workers at Aussenkehr.

New Era is reliably informed that employees of government’s Orange River Irrigation Project (ORIP) at the grape farm managed by AgriBusDev have not received their salaries for two consecutive months.

Workers who spoke to New Era said they feel like they are working for free, as they have not received their salaries for June and July. This made life difficult for them as they have family members that depend on them, the say.

Some of the permanent workers said their policies and accounts have been affected and they had to make plans to make payments, as there was no money in their accounts when their debit orders were due to go off.
“We have children. They need nappies; we do not have food at home; the furniture stores are threatening to take their things back; we are suffering like we do not work. Just imagine, two months without your salary,” said Amon Nghifikwa telephonically.

Another worker, Andreas Kupembona, said about 90 permanent workers have been told they will receive their salaries for June today, while it is not clear when the July salaries will be paid, saying the company keeps telling the workers there is no money.

He said the workers were told that the company does not have funds and would request funds from the Ministry of Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and only then will they pay the salaries for July.
“We are just told that the company does not have money and we should wait. We do not know when all what is due to us will be paid, it is really difficult,” he said.

Contacted for comment, ORIP’s farm manager Simon Akwenye refused to divulge any information on the non-payment of workers, saying it is an internal matter that he said cannot be dicussed with the media.

“It is an internal matter, so I would not comment on it and I cannot comment on something that has been communicated to you in this way. I do not know what the workers have told you,” he said. Akwenye said the workers were updated through relevant structures on the question of payment.

New Era understands that ORIP did not have a good harvest last year and suffered losses as a result, a situation which is affecting its cash flow.

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