Inside Meatco’s new leadership

…Mwilima talks transformation, NCA and re-focussing

By Hilary Mare

IT’S been a little over 100 days since Mushokobanji Mwilima took over the reigns at Meatco as substantive Chief Executive Officer, a position last held by Advocate Vekuii Rukoro who left the corporation in December 2017. Walking a familiar path, a path he walked as Executive Director of the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU), Mwilima has his sights clearly set on a new vision, to transform Meatco and create wealth of Namibians.

That journey already shows promise with Meatco having refreshed its top leadership with a brand new board appointed by Public Enterprise Minister Leon Jooste earlier this month and re-alignment having transpired at executive level.

“We won’t aim to reduce the losses. That is a lack of ambition. We will aim to exceed the expectations of our stakeholders. Our ultimate goal will be making sure that we are competitive, sustainable and create wealth for Namibians,” Mwilima told Confidente in an exclusive interview last week before affirming that changes at executive level had indeed been effected.

“We realised that as Meatco, if we were to only focus on procurement, that strategy would not be sustainable. Instead of having an executive for procurement, we now have an executive for livestock farming and value addition so that the person heading that position deals with capacity building and the provision of advisory services to the farmers. This helps the farmers build quality products which in turn addresses both quantitative and qualitative issues, a role prescribed to us by the Act of Parliament that establishes us.

“We have also created another position which we call Executive: Business Development and Strategy. We wanted someone who monitors and assess on a daily basis, and continuous, all our business unit. This was to cater for the aspect of strategic foresight. Someone who is able to see opportunities and threats as well as to deal with strategic issues that arise both internally and externally. This service is one we were outsourcing but now we filled the gap from internal resouces and we can now harness this knowledge from within,” affirmed Mwilima.

Progressively Mwilima highlighted that there will actually be a rebranding process in which Meatco will look to strengthen the brand in the mid-term and in the long term, own the whole value chain of the beef industry in which the company is aligned to.

This endeavour which Mwilima acknowledges, will be coupled with making sure that Meatco aggressively expands its markets in US  and China and also enter other luxury markets.

“In our new vision to align ourselves to the rapidly changing environment, we see ourselves becoming a world class meat brand and creating wealth for Namibians. One of the strategies in achieving this is diversifying into luxury markets. We are in the EU and we are in China and we have managed to penetrate USA. That is in our dream as a country and our dream as Meatco to diversify in these markets,” he said adding that locally, Meatco has changed its pricing strategy and there is now a principle that ensures that there is an equilibrium which ensures that whatever Meatco pays producer to stay in business, it also ensure that it remains sustainable.

Addressing concerns over exclusion of the NCA in Meatco’s broader plans which has caused outcry in the recent past, Mwilima highlighted that the corporation has shown its intent to serve everyone by establishing Meatco NCA which recently also installed its substantive CEO.

“As an organisation we want to be there for all our farmers regardless where they find themselves whether north of the veterinary cordon fence or south of the veterinary cordon fence.  We have a communal representative on the Board and we trust he will execute his duties just like all other representative have been doing in the past.  We want to make the NCA great again and give farmers the opportunity to able to market their livestock.”

Looking forward to working with the new Board, Mwilima emphasised the need to work as a team.

“We will need to work together as team.  The livestock industry is one of the key contributors of GDP.  The industry is worth N$2 billion approximately and we are facing unprecedented times more so now with the Covid-19 pandemic added. We need to follow the PEGA and make Meatco one of the greatest organisations in Namibia again,” he said.

New Meatco Board of Directors Chairperson, Johnnie Hamman last week highlighted that the principle of inclusivity must play an integral part in taking Meatco forward and no one should be left out.

“Producers farming with cattle throughout the country must be able to partake; those south and north of the veterinary cordon, commercial, communal and upcoming farmers must be included. The communication channels between our members, those delivering cattle to Meatco and those that presently prefer to deliver their cattle somewhere else must once again receive the deserved attention.

“The concerns of our producers must be attended to and, as communication is always a two-way street, producers must also be properly informed of the challenges Meatco faces and what is required from our clients to ensure a good and sustainable product to enhance the fantastic brand Meatco is famously known for internationally,” he said.