By Business Reporter
MEATCO has moved to clarify an article published by Confidenté, on 10 November 2016, headlined “Rukoro dragged into N$1 Million Fraud Saga” as a deliberate attempt to create an ‘artificial’ link between what was supposed to be a normal business transaction into something that now termed as ‘alleged fraud’ yet it has nothing to do with the CEO.
Vehaka Tjimune, the Executive Stakeholder Relations and Corporate Affairs viewed the article as an ‘imaginary fiction’ aimed at driving what seems to be a clear agenda of some sort to discredit the Meatco CEO Advocate Vekuii Rukoro and to drag the organisation into disrepute.
The article was therefore deliberately misleading as the headline has no bearing whatsoever with the rest of the body text in so far as the CEO’s alleged involvement.
“It is important for the public to take note that, this article is emanating from what in our view is supposed to be a normal business investigation commissioned by the board to ascertain itself on the workings of a project implemented to increase our cattle off take in the communal areas. The On-hoof Buying project was designed, discussed and approved by the Board in 2012/13. For many of our readers who are communal farmers, this project and its name will resonate as this project was designed to satisfy their demand to have Meatco buying their cattle in communal areas on the hoof with cash payment on the spot. This is what many of the communal farmers requested Meatco to do and has been the mode for many years used by all our stakeholders buying cattle in the communal areas.
“In our response to the journalist, management responded and cautioned the journalist that the questions posted are part of a Board-led investigation and management has not seen the draft report, as it was only recently presented to the Board by Ernest & Young. Currently the relevant managers are busy responding to questions by the auditors based on the draft report. For the record, it is to our own s u r prise that, while management is busy responding to the questions in order to provide more information, clarity and context, the next moment the report is a subject matter of what now appears to be an investigation in ‘public’. If this is the new business order, we welcome this unorthodox approach in the interest of all our stakeholders and for transparency sake.
“Through this On-hoof Buying project we roped in an experienced private commercial livestock agent to procure cattle on our behalf in the communal areas and in the process pass on this vital experience to our procurement staff. Therefore a staff member was assigned to work with him in all this transactions. This is a normal practice in the livestock industry as many SA feedlots on a similar basis use agents to procure cattle in Namibia on their behalf for many years. The Meatco project was not different and it has worked positively for Meatco and the agent managed to procure over 1500 cattle for Meatco which otherwise could not have come to Meatco. Those cattle were slaughtered by Meatco and paper trails of the ear tags are available and Namlits records will affirm. It is far-fetched to ‘allege fraud’ in a transaction that has a paper trail and for which management accounts information that can be confirmed by a third party through the Namlits database.
“The agent in question has a long track record in buying cattle in the communal areas and has been buying cattle for many years. It is for this reason that he was not only known to Meatco but to everyone who is familiar with buying cattle in Omaheke. In the process the agent had store the cattle for short periods (to satisfy the 40 day requirement of the EU) on his farm but overtime, he could not accommodate all those cattle numbers. It is for this reason Meatco identified, with his assistance, other farmers in the area to take in Meatco cattle. Meatco signed lease agreements with those farmers with specific stipulated conditions in managing the business risk associated with such cattle. Again this concept is not alien to the livestock sector as many are familiar with grazing lease agreement for centuries,” he said.
He further added that in order to enable the agent to procure and pay cash on the spot, the relevant project managers in Meatco agreed to enter into an agreement with the agent to handle limited cash transactions on Meatco’s behalf. These transactions were transferred in cycles whereby the agent receives funds to buy cattle and reconcile the individual cattle bought. However management took caution of the fact that these were third party transactions and only transferred limited funds per cycle.
“It is for this reason that the journalist was quoting in the article, cattle ear tag numbers and invoices that was provided by management to the auditors doing the investigation. This again is normal because management reconciled those individual transactions on a cycle-by-cycle basis. As management we had to take this deliberate attempt in providing details on this project through the media in the interest of our stakeholders namely the government, producers and general public although we are aware that it is a subject of an investigation. It further demonstrates the degree of confidence that management has with regard to how this project was managed.
“It is disheartening that despite the challenges that the meat industry including Meatco is facing, in the light of the severe drought, water scarcity and the rest of the odds, management must spend valuable time in the recent past and even now to manage these kind of ‘issues’ that at best is taking away our focus on managing one of our few still successful public institutions left in Namibia,” he concluded.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015