Nida accused of destroying cattle ranch

• ELIZABETH MWENGO

EMPLOYEES at Kavango Cattle Ranch in the Kavango West region have accused the management of the Namibian Industrialization Agency (Nida) of destroying the ranch.

They say the condition of the cattle at the ranch has deteriorated dramatically due to neglect.

Employees say that since Nida took over the ranch, they’ve seen the farm go from bad to worse.

They say that in January 2015, the ranch had a total of 16,312 head of cattle, of which only 10,000 remain today.

It comes after Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi paid a visit to the cattle ranch on Friday to familiarize himself with the farm and assess its condition.

He was accompanied by members of the Kavango West Regional Council, Kavango West Governor Sirkka Ausiku and Nida senior management.

The visit followed allegations of livestock that had died of neglect.

Employees have denied allegations of cattle rustling at the ranch.

They say the animals are stolen because of damaged infrastructure, such as the fence, which was damaged by the elephants.

“It’s not just a farm, it’s our home. We were born and raised on this farm. We have nowhere else to go.

“In this economy, for a person working in a risky area, earning N$3,000 a month is not good at all. We need a pay rise,” says Kadinga Galius, union steward at the farm .

He says employees have to walk far to access water points, the farm has only one working vehicle, no dehorning, cattle branding or vaccinations have taken place on the farm and inventory records are not maintained.

Galius says elephants roam around the farm in search of water, posing a risk to workers.

The situation forced them to leave the cattle station for the Mangetti settlement for security reasons, he says.

One employee in 2020 died after an elephant attack, he says.

Frans Haikera, a ranch worker, says, “The clinic is far away. There is no car to take us to the hospital in case of emergency, since we are 42 km from the public road with a car on the farm.

“Sometimes when we call for transport, it takes hours or days for the car to arrive for us to go and buy food. We are in a cage.

‘TRANSPARENCY

PROBLEMS’

Shiimi said last week that the government had spent a lot of money on the cattle ranches initiative, and Nida should not expect it to pump more money into their coffers.

The minister asked the agency’s management to review the situation at the ranch and address the issues.

He told the employees that he had heard their cries and that he would take their situation into account.

Mihe Gaomab, managing director of Nida, says there are transparency issues within the company, which are being addressed.

He says the loss of livestock is due to the movement of employees from their post in Mangetti.

The employees asked for danger pay of N$1,000, but the company offered them N$500, he says.

Gaomab says the company plans to relocate the elephants to a designated area, where two water facilities and fences would be erected.

Ausiku said on Friday that she wanted Nida to act as soon as possible and urged the company to include an official from her office to serve on the agency’s board.


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