GOBABIS: The Omaheke Trade Fair, billed as a unification platform for all trade and agricultural shows in the region, has suffered a major setback as one of the biggest stakeholders decided to go on his own.
Prominent livestock auctioneer Floris van Niekerk, who had initially indicated that he will be joining the efforts to unify all trade and agricultural shows, has opted to go on his own and host the annual Gobabis Agricultural Show under the auspices of the Gobabis Show Society.
Van Niekerk, who has been blamed by other stakeholders of sabotaging the trade fair initiative, told Nampa on Wednesday that he decided to go solo due to the alleged slow pace of progress with the organisation of the trade fair.
“I just couldn’t sit around and wait for things to happen. We were just involved in one meeting after another, without much progress. For that reason, I decided to go on with my annual show as I stood to lose my annual sponsors if I kept delaying,” he explained.
Van Niekerk dismissed recently flaunted notions at the town that he was hell-bent on ensuring that the Omaheke Trade Fair does not succeed in its mission, noting that such notions were merely aimed at causing confusion and misdirecting attention from the main objectives.
“I have nothing personal against the organisers of the Omaheke Trade Fair. In fact, I did not withdraw from the initiative – I merely went ahead to take action as I did not like the delay in the organisation of the trade fair,” he noted.
The Gobabis Show Society will now host its annual show towards the end of September around the same dates as those envisaged for the Omaheke Trade Fair.
The Omaheke Trade Fair is an initiative of Omaheke Regional Governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua to do away with the various trade and agricultural shows and expositions, which often duplicated efforts.
The Omaheke Trade Fair organising committee now faces the mammoth task of converting the Legare Stadium at the town into trade fair grounds to accommodate the envisaged trade fair.
The show was originally planned to be hosted at the local show grounds, managed by the Gobabis Show Society.
Since both shows will be running concurrently, such venue became unavailable to the trade fair committee.
Nampa was reliably informed that some members of the organising committee, who are representing the various farmers’ associations, are becoming jittery as it remains unclear when the much-needed cash injection for the trade fair will be availed.
It also emerged that many of the white commercial farmers in the region did not buy into the idea of the trade fair, but rather preferred the annual agricultural show hosted by the Gobabis Show Society, which they have been participating in since its inception close to 50 years ago.
Fessy Marenga of the Gobabis Municipality, who serves on the trade fair organising committee, however, told Nampa that the Omaheke Trade Fair will continue as planned.
“We will go on as planned. We are now busy with logistical finalisation, after which all will be ready for the hosting of the trade fair,” he said.
Commenting on Van Niekerk’s withdrawal from the trade fair initiative, Marenga said the timing made it difficult to secure alternative arrangements, although the committee has since found ways to deal with the situation.
“Nothing is going to stop the trade fair, as everything is on the right path. We will go ahead and host on the advertised dates,” he stressed.
The Omaheke Trade Fair will be hosted from 21 to 26 September, while the Gobabis Agricultural Show is slated for 24 to 26 September this year.