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BMC gives up on beef monopoly

Botswana Meat Commission’s (BMC) Chief Executive Officer, Dr Akolang Tombale has revealed that the beef industry could now be looking forward to the end of the commission’s monopoly and other entities to come on board.

The CEO of the financially embattled organisation startled the Parliamentary Committee of Statutory Bodies and Enterprises members with the new resolution after rejecting the idea in totality last year before the same committee. Tombale had told the committee last year that the BMC monopoly was not the reason the entity was beleaguered by financial crisis.

This week, Tombale made a u-turn and informed the committee that he had shared with government and he is committed to BMC monopoly. Tombale said the end of BMC monopoly will require establishment of a meat regulator to ensure that quality of the meat remain high.

Government has been resisting calls by farmers to liberalise the beef industry. Since independence government, through BMC have been the only entity authorised to run an abattoir that export the beef to other countries.

The liberalisation of BMC came about in 2013, when Ghanzi Farmers Association garnered support at Otse Meeting of farmers associations, resulting in the Letsema Resolution, wanting government to bring to an end BMC monopoly.

This was in the wake of financial crisis and corruption scandal which riddled the entity which have been ongoing since then. BMC have been making financial losses over the past few years and perennially faces cash flow problems. This has led to BMC failing to pay farmers within a reasonable time. 

The CEO of the beleaguered organisation told the committee that BMC financial situation have improved in recent years, and that the organisation have managed to repay its loans but still needs P600 million pula working capital for Lobatse plant alone.

Tombale further told the committee that the Maun and Francistown abattoirs remain a “social responsibility case” and they may be privatised to transform the beef industry. He is optimistic that the Lobatse plant remains the core of BMC business and could be easily returned to profitability without the other two abattoirs.

Tombale said prior to approaching the ministry over privatisation, they have satisfied themselves that with establishment of meat regulator, they would be no negative impact brought about by liberalisation of beef industry in Botswana.

Tombale has however shared that the Lobatse plant need to be modernised, an exercise which may cost government an excess of P1 billion pula.

The BMC CEO further said the liberalisation of beef industry in Botswana does not necessarily mean immediate success for the industry since Botswana remain a small player in the beef market. Tombale said what the BMC have done was to focus on the niche market and benchmarked against Namibia which is producing the same amount of beef with Botswana.

Committee member, Ndaba Gaolathe had shared that previous fears about BMC have been misplaced, and that it was a similar argument made against establishment of mobile networks in Botswana, because it was said Botswana’s market was too small.

Gaolathe said as the BMC monopoly comes to an end, government approach should be similar to model adopted on mobile networks, where it is open only to a few players, enough to bring competition and quality at the same time.

The committee has however questioned BMC business dealings; the engagement of a British based marketing company which floated the country’s public procurement policies. Tombale failed to provide reason why BMC engaged the company without engaging in a tendering process.

The parliamentary select committee members are of the view that BMC stood a better chance of engaging in a contract with a company which would have offered a better price. Tombale has, though he conceded to violation of PPADB procedures, expressed that BMC have engaged a company which has relevant experience and it is best at performing the job.

He said since the company came on board, BMC have managed to rake in over P1 billion in revenues for the last three years and that the Botswana beef is doing well in the niche market.

A 2013 Parliamentary special select committee of inquiry into the BMC and the decline of the beef industry in the country, recommended that the statutory beef export monopoly in favour of the Commission in terms of its Act be retained both in short and medium term to allow for reinvigoration of the national beef sector, and the enhancement of the capacity of the commission to effectively compete in a deregulated and competitive beef export market in the long term.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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