21 December 2017

Namibia: Meatco Board Dares Rukoro

THE Meat Corporation of Namibia board has dared its former chief executive, Vekuii Rukoro, to sue them by the end of next month about claims that his character was damaged.

Meatco is a state-owned meat processing and marketing entity set up to sell products to local and international markets on behalf of Namibian farmers.

The organisation has also been a battleground between Rukoro and the board that chucked him out of the organisation this month.

The Namibian reported last week that Meatco agreed to pay Rukoro N$3 million to avoid being dragged to court for damaging his character.

Rukoro's lawyer, Jeff Tjitemisa, confirmed this, saying the meat trading company decided to pay Rukoro within 14 days.

Documents seen by The Namibian show that Meatco agreed to pay Rukoro around N$2,3 million. The money does not include his benefits.

Tjitemisa threatened to take Meatco to court for defamation when they wrongfully charged and suspended Rukoro earlier this year over allegations of conflict of interest by being the Ovaherero paramount chief while he was the chief executive officer of the company.

Meaco's lawyer, Amupanda Kamanja, wrote to Rukoro yesterday through his lawyer, saying the decision to reach an agreement with the former Meatco chief was not because of the legal threat.

Kamanja said the settlement between Meatco and Rukoro was reached to avoid a bitter separation.

"At no point whatsoever during this matter did our clients discuss any issues concerning defamation.

"Should you and your client (Rukoro) remain so overly confident of a claim of defamation and damages, please be confident enough to institute, in a competent court, on or before 30 January 2018, a lawsuit for defamation against the Meat Corporation of Namibia," he said.

Meatco accused Rukoro of directing the company's livestock procurement officials to give preferential treatment to the purchase and slaughtering of cattle belonging to a Cabinet minister ahead of the farmers who had been assured and listed on Meatco's itinerary.

The company dropped charges against Rukoro after reaching an agreement last week.

Tjitemisa told The Namibian last week that Rukoro has no intention of returning to the company despite being cleared.

"He feels that his character has been defamed and therefore has no intention to return to the company.

"The board did not want him there and suspended him to frustrate him. He cannot be in a place where he is not wanted, " said Tjitemisa.

Rukoro's contract was set to expire in February next year.

Rukoro yesterday told The Namibian that he received the money, but said he had not seen the letter from Kamanja.

"I cannot make a statement when I have not seen the letter," he said.

However, Tjitemisa yesterday confirmed that he received the letter from Kamanja this week but said he is still to respond to it.

"I do not know why Meatco's lawyers had to write such a letter. Maybe it is just a formality? It does not make any sense.

"Kamanja did not make any claims or demands in that letter, so I do not know on what basis he sent it to me," said Tjitemisa.

He also said he was not sure whether Rukoro would still want to sue the company, but reiterated that the reason they paid him the money was to avoid a lawsuit.

Tjitemisa further said that Kamanja was not being honest in stating that the payment was to avoid a sour separation, saying it was to avoid being sued.

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