WINDHOEK – Witvlei Meat yesterday said it would hold an urgent open meeting in Witvlei tomorrow to discuss the future of the embattled private company.
The company has dediced to mount another court challenge to question the competence of the Minister of Trade and Industry, Calle Schlettwein, to reduce Witlvei Meat’s quota for 2014 from 700 tonnes to 300 tonnes. By yesterday afternoon no official comment was forthcoming from Witvlei Meat on the reasons behind the planned urgent meeting, with procurement coordinator Mike van Helsdingen only saying “various important announcements” will be made in the course of the day. Producers in the Omaheke Region and elsewhere supplying Witvlei Meat with prime beef for export to the Norwegian market are expected to attend the meeting. Witvlei Meat has made headlines throughout 2013 after a High Court judgement in which Agribank obtained an eviction order against Witvlei Meat in March this year. Witvlei Meat is currently asking the country’s highest court to overturn the High Court judgement after hearing oral arguments on the appeal, while Agribank has since decided not to proceed with the eviction of the company, but instead decided to enter into an interim arrangement while the parties await a decision of the Supreme Court.
The company also approached the High Court just before Christmas in an effort to prevent government from implementing a bidding process for the allocation of the Norway beef quota for 2014. The High Court dismissed the application and chairperson Sydney Martin over the past weekend confirmed to New Era that he is preparing another court challenge to question Schlettwein’s competence and role during the bidding process and the criteria used to reduce the quota of Witvlei Meat.
The open session slated for tommorow will kick off at 10h00 with welcoming remarks by the Managing Director of Witvlei Meat, Hendri Badenhorst, to be followed by a presentation by company chairperson Sydney Martin. Thereafter, producers will be allowed time to ask questions about the immediate future of Witvlei Meat, as well as the long-term strategy of the company.
Towards the end of last year, Knud Daugaard, Nortura director and Norway/NoriDane chairperson for Norway and Denmark and a director of Witvlei Meat, assured producers of Nortura’s support for Witvlei Meat’s beef derstined for Norway and even expressed the wish that Witvlei Meat would be able to export more in 2014. Nortura is the biggest importer of Namibian beef to Norway, and a 30 percent shareholder in Witvlei Meat. At the time of going to print it could not be confirmed whether the Governor of the Omaheke Region, Festus Ueitele and his advisor, Pijoo Nganate, would also be present at the all-important meeting tomorrow, nor if Schlettwein would attend.