By Simon Liseli
A showdown to revamp structures and operations of the new Zambezi Meat Co-mpany (ZAMCO) at Katima Mulilo has raised eyebrows to livestock farmers who are prepared to sell their cattle.
Severe erratic droughts has hit the region and the entire country, whilst farmers in the Zambezi region were hoping that ZAMCO taking over from Meatco will enable them to trade more efficiently. farmers are surprised why ZAMCO is not operational since 2016 when it was supposed to be renovated and repaired for farmers to start selling their livestock and are asking for any kind of support from government of Namibia that will help to keep their animals moving since there is nowhere to sell them.
The entire country is facing severe drought due to poor rainfall from last year to this year, and grazing areas are already dry and water drinking places for livestock are also getting dry.
However, ZAMCO Chairperson Mr.Robert Mapenzi clarified that the idea of the project was mooted in 2016 when Katima and Oshakati abattoirs, inherited properties that belonged to the government.
According to Mr. Mapenzi, renovations and repairs were expected to have been completed in November last year (2018) but it was not completed because they were some evaluation of the items which were not included on the list of quantities that were identified and submitted to the ministry for approval of which some were approved and some were not approved and still waiting for its approval.
The construction company that was awarded tender to work is Shetotwa Investment cc local company owned by Mr.Edward Mbeha “Last year in December we had a meeting with them and after that they came to brief the governor that they were to down their tools because they are not getting some payments” said ZAMCO Chairperson.
Mapenzi added that they have been engaging the office of the governor, ministry of agriculture and some ministers who are playing a role in this regard but no progress.
“We took another root by engaging the ministry of works because they have experts who can do mechanics, electrical and engineering they were here in the region, the delegation that was led by Mr. George Kawana we expected the whole facilities in their presence to have been completed” He stressed
Mapenzi still argues that it was only found that the work that had been done was only 50% which embarrassed ZAMCO because when they compared the work that was done at Oshakati was at 98% and the people who did it are the same people who were sent to Katima abattoir to complete the work.
“We were literally embarrassed, farmers, ZAMCO and Zambezi livestock producers we were all there, after inspecting the building experts from the ministry of works were really shocked because there was almost 0% progress only 5% job done”
At first when delegates from the ministry visited the site the work was at 45% when they came back for revisit they only found work only rated with an additional of 5% to bring it to 50%.
“They asked us but we told them there’s nothing we can do because we are not the appointing authority and we recommended strongly saying maybe the ministry should consider bringing the constructor who was renovating in Oshakati and for now we are still waiting for the response” He noted.
Mr. Mapenzi added that they are planning to go to Windhoek and see some ministers to hear how they can assist them because at the moment nothing is going on at the abattoir the targeted month for the operation was December last year or January this year.
He said that ZAMCO committee has nothing to do since the facility belongs to the government and the rehabilitation was supposed to be done by the government before they hand it over.
Asked on how he was observing drought in the region Mr. Mapenzi has this to say “For Zambezi region my dear young brother I don’t know how one can express him/herself, if there was drought this one is going to be severe because even if you go to other flood prone areas like Muzii and Nankuntwe where people normally take their animals to lower grounds its dry meaning the whole region is going to be affected and the entire country”.
“Even if we wait until June/July we will be only selling or marketing skeleton and by so doing we will be destroying our market. Even when we advice them to sell their animal like what they are doing in the south to minimize the number here in Zambezi we have no market, look at our open market, carcass stays for 3 days they even get wasted” He quashed.
Mr.Mapenzi further called the government for assistance “I think the only thing now we have to take it up with the central government and lets hear from them how they can assist us”
Meanwhile Chairperson of Zambezi Livestock producer’s Cooperative (ZLPC) Mr. Alfred Chilinda is in fear that looking on how drought is hitting, farmers will lose their animal and if not selling them farmers will triple disadvantaged.
“We are so disappointed that currently or as am talking the abattoir is not completed and I am very disposed” He said.
ZLPC is disturbed because they hoped that livestock farmers will survive by taking advantages of selling their cattle but they are now losing hope of those advantages because of the tendered constructor.
“If renovations and repairs will finish by October there will be no animals to sell because they will die from drought every where so we are saying those who won the tender should do it faster” he noted.
He said all farmers are in the problem and sooner than later they will be called where they have to discuss about speaking with one voice to traditional authorities, politicians, governor and central government to do one thing to heart the completion of the abattoir.
Renovations and repairs of ZAMCO started last year in August and hoped to have been completed already.
“When we ask how far was the completion of the work they seem to be saying they are around 80% job done but am telling you they are below 50%” He concluded.
Contacted for comment Zambezi Regional Governor, Lawrence Sampofu referred all answers to ZAMCO‘s Board. Efforts to hear from Executive Director of the Ministry of Agriculture,Water and Forestry Mr. Percy Misika proved futile at the time of going for press.