Namibian minister intervenes in export spat

New developments in the tussle between forensic services contractor Agri Inspec and the heavyweights of Namibian meat production occurred when Agri Inspec’s managing director, Dr Hennie Kleynhans, allegedly returned to the border between 27 and 30 September, and, according to a statement put out by him, found fresh evidence that mature cattle were being declared as weaners.

Coming a fortnight after a meeting between South Africa’s Red Meat Producers Organisation (RPO) and their Namibian counterparts, the statement incensed Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) president Ryno van der Merwe. He wrote to Namibia’s agriculture minister, John Mutorwa, asking him to investigate Agri Inspec’s claims. However, Dr Kleynhans told Farmer’s Weekly that the minister has been in possession of proof for quite some time.

Agri Inspec was originally contracted by the Namibian Agronomic Board, Namibia Dairies and Namib Mills to investigate allegations of corrupt border practices. Gross irregularities were allegedly uncovered, and the RPO, after being presented with the evidence, also hired Agri Inspec. Tension quickly mounted between the Namibians and the South Africans, with the Namibian Meat Board claiming it had never been shown proof of the irregularities.

Dr Kleynhans continues to withhold information from the meat board and the NAU, saying they’re merely after his sources. Until now, he’s enjoyed the continued support of the RPO, although some in the South African meat industry have sided with the Namibians and called for a full disclosure of evidence.Van der Merwe’s letter to Mutorwa put the ball in Dr Kleynhans’s court.

“We humbly request that these reports are verified for correctness and that the necessary steps are taken against the culprits,” wrote Van der Merwe.He called for “remedial actions” to be taken by all institutions responsible for administering the trade of livestock between Namibia and South Africa.

Despite Dr Kleynhans’s claims that the minister possesses proof of serious border irregularities, Mutorwa chose to side with Van der Merwe.“I think the minister faces a dilemma – that is, local political pressure versus the findings of an unknown organisation. He has the proof, and I’m first getting legal advice before attempting to set up a meeting with him to establish the reasons for his 180-degree turn,” said Dr Kleynhans.