Witvlei retrenchments jeopardise education

12 Feb 2015 13:20pm
WITVLEI, 12 FEB (NAMPA) – The retrenchments of the about 160 employees at the Witvlei Meat abattoir is a crucial issue, and needs everybody’s attention.
This was the view of the Nossob Combined School’s headmaster Ben Geingob in an interview with Nampa on Thursday.
The school is located in the WitvIei settlement in the Okorukambe Constituency of the Omaheke Region.
It serves 863 learners from pre-primary level up to Grade 10, and has a hostel which accommodates 200 learners.
Grade 10 was only implemented from this year.
Geingob expressed concern about the future of the learners after their parents, most of whom were employed at the factory, received their last pay on 31 January 2015.
“Witvlei Meat was a very important player in terms of economic empowerment and employment-creation. All of us are very much worried about the closure, and we are also worried over the possible unemployment here.
At the moment, we do not see the effects yet, but slowly but surely it will come into play,” he stated woefully.
Witvlei threatened in December last year that it would close and lay off workers if it does not receive a favourable quota allocation.
The quota allocation has always been divided on a 50/50 basis between Witvlei Meat and the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) during the past years.
However, Government changed the allocation with the introduction of a new bidding process based, on specific Cabinet criteria.
The quota allocation was changed in December 2013 when an export quota of 350 tonnes of beef was awarded to Witvlei Meat, while Meatco was able to send 1 200 tonnes to Norway and Brukkaros Meat Processors (BMP) were awarded a quota of 100 tonnes.
BMP, however, did not manage to obtain an export permit.
Only Meatco and Witvlei Meat submitted bids for export quotas for 2015.
The abattoir was amongst the biggest employer in the Omaheke Region.
According to Geingob, the school’s management is monitoring the developments in the village and at the factory very closely.
Witvlei Meat played a very important part at the school with donations and sponsorships over the years. The school received 16 laptops in the year 2013, and also on various occasions received meat-in-bone from the abattoir for sports activities.
The company also made contributions towards the school library, the principal noted.
He emphasised that most of the learners do not have sufficient resources, as most of them depend on Government’s feeding scheme, which provides for only one meal per day.
Geingob thus called on the shareholders of the company to resolve the issue as soon as possible so that the factory can continue with its operations, and the workers can go back to work.
“If this source is unplugged, we will have a catastrophe on our hands. We want empowerment, and a resolution to the problem because the school also benefits,” he added.
Meanwhile, the company's Managing Director Hendri Badenhorst told Nampa upon enquiry that the company will issue a media statement in due course.