Derek Brink’s Senn foods is set to expand significantly encroaching into some of Botswana Meat Commission’s (BMC) safe zones such as cannery, creating hundreds of jobs in the process. Although the BMC monopoly denies Senn Foods an opportunity to export beef, the 35 year old business seeks to expand into cannery and biltong production for open markets.
According to the Botswana Trade and Investment Centre (BTIC) website, Senn Floods is explained as a privately owned domestic company that began its operations in 1982. The company currently has 480 employees. The company is into wholesome foods and their products are processed meat and beef. With the current expansion, Senn Foods is expected to hire an extra 200 to bolster the work force and has recruited some experienced former BMC employees for its cannery division. BMC recently retrenched and Senn Foods pounced.
This publication gathers that with the erection of a new bigger factory, Senn Foods which currently exports processed meat only, is on a mission to ready itself for the possible liberalisation of the beef market. Parliament has been procrastinating over the BMC monopoly Bill for the past five years. The bill is currently under deferred status. It seeks to abolish the BMC monopoly in the exportation of live cattle and beef. â€¨
The law was last discussed in Parliament when Christian De Graaf was still minister of Agriculture.
Because of the BMC monopoly, Senn Foods is not allowed to export beef. In the past they have explained that they are not exporting chicken because local prices are very hire. A senior employee at Senn Foods indicated that the company’s expansion plans are moving at a very fast pace in anticipation of a liberalised beef market, which could potentially triple the company’s earnings.
WeekendPost has further established that Senn Foods has potential customers inquiring from as far as Hong Kong, China and other Asian countries on the possibility of importing beef from Botswana. The SADC region, especially Angola and the DRC are also interested. The main impediment remains licencing because BMC is protected from competition. However, what frustrates businesspeople like Brink and others is the fact that BMC seems to shun other markets and is only interested in exporting to the European Union. Attempts by Senn Foods to apply for licences to export meat other than beef are said to have been turned down on a number of occasions.
Senn Foods already operates an abattoir which has also been revamped and increased in size. The abattoir slaughters cattle, goats, sheep, game and a host of other animals for the local market.
The considered expansion, it is said, also took into consideration the possible liberalisation of the beef market and possibly other meat for export.
SENN FOODS THE EMPIRE
Derek Brink, as part of the plans to spread Senn Foods in Africa, sold 49 percent in Botswana’s biggest cold chain distribution firm, Senn Foods Logistics, for R79.9 million ($7,7m) to RCL Foods in 2014.
RCL Foods also used the acquisition in keeping with its plans to grow its presence in Africa, which is projected to experience unprecedented economic growth in the next decade. “(Through this acquisition RCL and Vector will) offer world class logistics and sales solutions to existing and future partners in these countries,” RCL said in a statement.
Through these partnerships, Senn Foods intends to ease transportation of its goods through Africa now and in future. “Senn Foods has a lot of potential, it could employ more people, if the beef market is liberalised,” quizzed one of the company executives.
Senn Foods Logistics is involved in the distribution of dry, frozen and chilled foodstuffs. The firm currently represents almost all of Vector’s principals in Botswana, which includes Rainbow, McCain, I&J, Fry’s and QSR customers, Chicken Licken, Nando’s, Spur and Wimpy.
Senn Foods has in the past also acquired 100% issued share capital in Seafood Wholesale Botswana and in exchange, Seafood Wholesale Botswana getting 43% of issued share capital in Senn Foods. Seafood Wholesale is a distributor of chilled and frozen products including Senn Foods processed meats and dry goods.
THROW BACK – THE MONOPOLY DEBATE
Those who support the liberalisation of the beef market are of the view that if the BMC monopoly ceases, farmers would be able to sell as individuals or syndicates to whoever they choose. At the moment they are confined to selling to the BMC because of the monopolistic BMC Act. Farmers are interested in the Angola and Zimbabwe markets because they believe the BMC has neglected those.
The anti-BMC rally is also of the view that the EU sometimes makes it difficult for Botswana to sell her beef because of stringent standards. They stress that there need to address quality first and further note that if the government were to open up the beef market, it would be a free for all. They point out that only commercial farmers would benefit from the new arrangement. He argued that Batswana farmers, who do not have ranches, would be unable to develop their breed. But those against liberalisation are of the view that before Botswana opens up the market there is need to develop the local breed first.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.