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‘Beefmaster here to stay’

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The statement by Maimane, indicating that the company was closing its doors and 400 employees would lose their jobs, was “not accurate”

File picture: Kacper Pempel/Reuters

BEEFMASTER in Kimberley has dismissed a statement by DA leader Mmusi Maimane asserting that the company wanted to relocate to Johannesburg and that 400 employees stood to lose their jobs.

In a statement, Maimane, who on Friday morning visited the abattoir before leading a march to the Office of the Premier, said that Beefmaster in Kimberley might “pack up and leave”, leaving 400 people unemployed.

“Just this morning I visited the premises of a company called Beefmaster – an abattoir here in Kimberley. They have reached a point where they want to take their entire business up to Johannesburg, because keeping it here in Kimberley is simply too hard, too costly and, above all, too unpredictable given the constant electricity interruptions. In their line of business an uninterrupted supply of electricity is absolutely vital. If government here can’t get the basics right, businesses like Beefmaster will pack up and leave. And if they do, 400 employees will immediately lose their jobs and at least 2 000 dependants will lose a household income,” Maimane said.

On the weekend, Beefmaster CEO Louw van Reenen reacted by saying that the statement by Maimane, indicating that the company was closing its doors and 400 employees would lose their jobs, was “not accurate”.

“The specific statement was that Beefmaster was here to stay and would like to work towards finding a solution to the problems being experienced.

“We did, however, confirm that it had reached a point where it was becoming more and more difficult to operate a sustainable business in Kimberley due to costly and unpredictable water and electricity interruptions in the city.

“In our line of business an uninterrupted supply of electricity and water is absolutely vital, together with a stable labour market. Businesses in Kimberley are not supported with any form of incentive to combat such excessively high costs of water and electricity supply, which makes it more and more uncompetitive locally and internationally, as well as less attractive and feasible to grow and expand business in the Kimberley area.”

Van Reenen added that, due to the above reasons, doing business in Kimberley was more expensive than doing business in the Ekurhuleni Municipality and therefore expansions that were planned for Kimberley would in all probability rather be undertaken in Ekurhuleni.

“No mention was made of ‘constant electricity interruptions’ – the discussion pertained to services as a whole. We also confirmed that the Sol Plaatje Municipality had been invited on numerous occasions to visit our plant but we have had no response to date. In terms of the aforementioned planned expansions, the (additional) 400 workers that would need to be employed, we would not be able to employ in Kimberley (and this number might convert to 2 000 dependants)” Van Reenen said.

He concluded by stating that Beefmaster was not only affected by poor service delivery in Kimberley but also nationally.