Encumbered with a P93million setback due from government for the losses incurred by the perennial loss making Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) coupled by the meat processing entity’s uncertain future, the organization’s CEO Dr. Akolang Tombale is contemplating quitting.
Tombale, who retired from his post as the board chairperson of another cash strapped and troubled BCL Mine in June this year, told WeekendPost in an interview that he might consider jumping the sinking ship if the government does not implement some of the measures to save the parastatal.
“I was hired to save BMC from sinking further into serious financial doldrums,” said the soft-spoken Tombale in an interview with this publication on the sidelines of a recent 2nd BMC Baruakgomo Pitso in Francistown.
Tombale added: “If the measures I would like to implement are not taken into consideration, I am left without an option but to throw in the towel. This is so because there are two things involved thus being fired if I fail to resuscitate the commission or resigning.”
In order to give BMC the kiss of life, Tombale has recommended that Francistown and Maun abattoirs should be separated from the BMC Group and operated solely under government funding.
This is so because Francistown and Maun abattoirs now depend solely on BMC Lobatse for financial support, according to Tombale. And running BMC commercially, the commission cannot operate the two abattoirs since they are making losses, he said.
According to Tombale, the current business environment does not support intended reforms, as losses are weighing heavily on the enterprise or plant’s cash flow. Tombale further lamented that climatic conditions also pose even greater challenges to sustaining cattle supply to BMC – including the quality of cattle supplied to the meat processing firm.
“Cab Memo of 2006, which discouraged closure of BMC Francistown and reimbursement on operational losses (now amounting to P93million) is not being fully implemented as instructed,” lamented Tombale.
In 2006, BMC submitted a proposal to the government to mothball the plant, as it was making losses and draining the cash flow. However, the government through the presidential directive cab 13 (a) of 2006 advised that BMC continue to operate the plant and be reimbursed for the losses year of year.
“But the BMC’s recent and current performance does not reflect does not reflect a dynamic and responsive approach and it does not have competitive advantage is most facets of its operations,” said Tombale.
BMC was established in the late ’80s with the objective to increase throughput every year in accordance with the corporate plan and reach optimum capacity utilization by the year 2008.
Eight years later, throughput however remains volatile for BMC and the long term trend is downwards with the meat processing company now slaughtering less than 50percent of the annual kill in Botswana.
Endless efforts to get a comment on the government’s position drew a blank, as the Minister of Agriculture Patrick Ralotsia was not answering his mobile phone until press time.
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â€ť she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.