Government efforts to implement Commodity Based Trade (CBT) as a strategy of controlling endemic Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Ngamiland has met its first hurdle.
This came after farmers rejected the P 23 per Kilogram price offered by Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) for cattle bought under the commencing CBT arrangement. Following 10 years of endemic FMD in Ngamiland, government announced that it will utilise new meat-processing value chain-based approaches, also known as Commodity Based Trade (CBT) in Ngamiland. In adopting CBT, government was buoyed by the 2015 changes of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Code which ensured that beef export market access can now be attained utilising CBT.
The prevailing approach of managing FMD in South African Development Community (SADC) as evidenced by Ngamiland in Botswana is designed on a geographic basis, grounded in the use of extensive veterinary diseases fencing systems. According to conservationists, this strategy has proven disastrous for migratory wildlife and now works against the long-term goals of establishing sustainable Transfrontier Conservation Areas by perpetuating significant socioeconomic inequities faced by resident livestock producers living with wildlife who are prevented from accessing profitable export markets.
In 2016, Botswana was amongst different SADC delegates who assembled in Victoria Falls and agreed that CBT must be progressed and implemented in SADC region. SADC has found CBT to be a solution to appease an ongoing land-use conundrum in natural resources rich areas of SADC such as Ngamiland in Botswana where livestock production and wildlife conservation are conflicting.
Last week the Ministry Agricultural Development and Food Security with funding from United Nations funded Ngamiland’s Sustainable Land Management project organized a meeting at Maun Lodge to sensitise stakeholders on the implementation of CBT. Botswana Meat Commission’s Maun Plant Manager, Oabona Ramotshwara revealed that under the CBT arrangement, BMC will buy only quarantined animals at the rate of P 23/KG of cold dress mass of carcass mass at Makalamabedi quarantine.
Farmers Associations however refused the offer saying it is too little. With BMC’s revelations that it will buy cattle exclusively at the quarantines, farmers complained that due to few working quarantines they will have to pay more for cattle transportation to the quarantines. Chairman of Hainaveld Farmers Association, Killer Ledimo said farmers are calling to BMC to buy cattle at the source and transport them on its own to the quarantine.
Chairman of Ngamiland Integrated Farmers Association, Mod Masedi on the other hand opined that there is still a lot of work that has to be done to teach farmers about CBT before its implementation. Other farmers threatened that they will boycott taking cattle to quarantines and selling to Maun abattoir due to the insignificant prices. Regional Agriculture coordinator Obert Mabutha however told the gathering that cattle quarantining is going to be mandatory for every farmer and abattoir doing business in Ngamiland.
The threats of boycott come as is BMC is already battling low numbers of cattle sold by farmers for slaughter. According to Maun plant Manager by end of April, the abattoir failed to reach its target of 7900 slaughtered animals only managing to slaughter 4905. Ramotshwara said the abattoir currently operates at 62 percent capacity lower than the required capacity of 85 percent and above.
Ramotshwara cited competition from existing three abattoirs, late payments to farmers and low prices they pay to farmers as potential reasons for low cattle sales. “We compete with other abattoirs in Ngamiland who apparently pay more and faster than us.” Ramotshwara said they are also still waiting for government funding as government has announced that the abattoir will not be privatized like the Francistown abattoir and will be supported financially by government saying however the promised funding has not yet arrived.
From deliberations made at Maun Lodge meeting by BMC and the Department of Veterinary Services and the farmers associations, it came apparent that there is neither clear policy guidance nor a coherent plan on the ground to guide how this CBT will be implemented. It also came clear that the Ministry Environment and Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism as an entity mandated for conservation duties is in the meantime absent in the implementation and ongoing efforts towards CBT despite CBT being both a conservation and food production initiative.
Dr Odireleng Thololwane of the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) seemed to expose the disturbing reality when he revealed that DVS has no budget to maintain quarantines infrastructure in Ngamiland to enable easy implementation of CBT. This is despite that the success of CBT depends on cattle having to be quarantined for 30 days for anti mortem inspections before being taken to the abattoir. Dr Thololwane said they received funding to maintain Makalamabedi quarantine and Kgomokgwana quarantines saying Makalamabedi is ready to receive 500 cattle per a month. Maintenance of Kgomokgwana has not started while DVS has to find funding to resurrect other existing quarantines.
While the wildlife tourism and Cattle production sectors are both important contributors to rural economic development in the SADC proposed transfrontier conservation areas such as Kavango –Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) competition between the two is rampant due to prevalence of FMD transmitted between wildlife and livestock. It was against this backdrop that when government early this year announced plans to implement CBT, farmers smelt a ray of hope to finally emerge from poverty imposed by the 10 year prevalence of FMD in Ngamiland since the 2008 Kuke Outbreak.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.