Connect with us
Advertisement

Kanye Buffalo: Death knells for the BMC?

Could the recent suspension of beef exports spell doom for the Botswana Meat Commission, which according to its publicly available financials, had begun to emerge from the doldrums? Just when the parastatal’s turnaround strategy was beginning to bear fruit, and the commission was beginning to realize profitability, the Kanye buffalo appeared.

Consequently, the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) suspended export of beef and beef products, including to BMC’s largest and most lucrative market, the European Union (EU).     

Addressing the media on Tuesday, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Boipolelo Khumomatlhare said the presence of buffaloes in the heart of EU export zone called for an urgent need for their immediate removal. “The EU market only allows imports of fresh bovine meat from FMD free countries or zones among other conditions. Thus in the event of a confirmed case of FMD, the EU market may be lost. As a Member State of World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) we are also obliged not to export FMD to other countries or regions, particularly the EU,” he said.

Further, Khumomatlhare reiterated; “Ongoing investigations have necessitated the imposition of movement standstill in the zone. Furthermore, exports of beef to all trading partners have been suspended with immediate effect. Trading partners have been notified and would be updated accordingly once investigations are concluded.”

According to its 2013 financials, the BMC had found its feet after a long time in the doldrums. During the period between 2008 and 2012, the commission lost a total of P727 million. It was accused of corruption and mismanagement, and was closed out of the EU market between 2012 and 2013 for failure to comply with the EU traceability standards.

But in 2013, with the advent of the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Akolang Tombale and the resultant introduction and implementation of a new strategy, the parastatal’s staged a dramatic turnaround. From a P318 million loss recorded in 2012, BMC recorded a P28 million surplus the following year, in 2013. It also recorded over a billion Pula in revenue the same year.  

A number of interventions are responsible for the good showing by the commission. Experts point to a number of factors, re-entry of Botswana beef to the relatively lucrative EU market in 2013 after two years of being blocked out of the market being the most important factor. The second factor was the increase in beef prices after South Africa, long held to be a low value frozen beef market, in 2013 took huge volumes of the BMC chilled beef at prices not far below those of the EU market. The third reason for the turnaround was the price paid to farmers which had more farmers willing to sell their cattle to the commission. The three year turnaround strategy, which lapses at the end of 2016, has not been without challenges as demonstrated by the problems that continue to bedevil the BMC. But the strategy has delivered profitability for the commission nonetheless.

With improved performance, now came the Kanye buffalo incident which stops the commission from exporting beef at all, including to its most lucrative market, the EU.

According to the BMC Communications Manager, Brian Dioka, they have responded to the export and slaughter restrictions by suspending production which entails buying of cattle into feedlots around Zone 11, buying of cattle into the Lobatse abattoir, carrying out slaughter on the same, and exporting beef and beef by-products through the Lobatse abattoir. This Dioka says; “…is in support of Government’s efforts to better manage the latest livestock movement protocols, [and] also to safeguard the global reputation and accolades conferred on the BMC.”

On the issue of financial losses the commission may suffer as a result of the export restrictions, Dioka said it was too early to quantify, but emphasized that BMC has adopted a niche-marketing and production approach where they only produce to order rather than stockpiling. “Therefore, we are managing those orders. Should the situation normalize, BMC management is prepared to work hard to make-up for lost-time,” he said.

Further, Dioka said though their Lobatse abbatoir has ceased operations, the Francistown and Maun abattoirs are in operation. “Our efforts are now dedicated to these plants to see how we can balance the deficit which will be necessitated by the closure of production in Lobatse,” he stated, adding that they remain optimistic that the restrictions will abate soon.

This reporter asked Dioka if the closure of the Lobatse operation could necessitate further staff retrenchments. BMC recently retrenched 153 people at the Francistown abattoir. In response, Dioka was quick to point out that staff retrenchment and the export restrictions were unrelated. He, however, made an assurance that current positions remain safe, despite having gone or going through a restructuring exercise – that unfortunately resulted in transfer of some staff and retrenchment of others.
Dioka pleaded for calm and optimism and asked for the nation to comply with the restrictions.

Continue Reading

News

Botswana records rise in corruption – Report

28th January 2022
President Masisi

The 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released by Transparency International has shown that corruption levels remain at a standstill worldwide while it is on the rise in Sub Saharan Africa.

The results at a glance; The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks of countries around the world, based on how corrupt their public sectors are perceived to be. The results are given on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. This year’s CPI paints a grim picture of the state of corruption worldwide.

According to the report; this year the global average remains unchanged for the tenth year in a row, at just 43 out of a possible 100 points. Despite multiple commitments, 131 countries have made no significant progress against corruption in the last decade. More than two-thirds of countries score below 50 indicating that they have serious corruption problems, while 27 countries are at their lowest score ever.

And despite some progress, nearly half of all countries have been stagnant on the CPI for almost a decade. These countries have failed to move the needle in any significant way to improve their score and combat public sector corruption.”

Western Europe and European Union are the highest scoring region with 66 points.
The top countries are Denmark, Finland and New Zealand, each with a score of 88. Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany complete the top 10.

49 countries were assessed in the Sub Saharan African region. With an average score of 33, Sub Saharan Africa is the lowest performing region in the CPI, showing little improvement from previous years and underscoring a need for urgent action. The report puts forth the concern that the gains made by top scorers are overshadowed by the region’s poor performance. This reinforces the urgent need for African governments to implement existing anticorruption commitments if they are to alleviate the devastating effect of corruption on millions of citizens living in extreme poverty.

With a score of 66, Seychelles consistently earns top marks in the region. Botswana is also regarded as a top scorer in the region with a score of 60/100 and a domestic score 55/100. Bottom of the index are Somalia with a score of 12 and South Sudan coming in with 11.

“Although Botswana is regarded a top performer. It has hit a historic low in 2021, recording a significant 10 point decline from a score of 65 in 2012. The result corroborates the findings of Transparency International’s 2019 Global Corruption Barometer survey, which showed that most people in Botswana thought corruption had increased. Concerns over impunity such as in the case of the alleged looting of the National Petroleum Fund which implicated senior government officials-underscore the need to increase accountability for high-level corruption in the continent’s oldest” Revealed the report.

The research also shows that corruption is more pervasive in countries least equipped to handle the Covid-19 pandemic and other global crises. The global pandemic has been used in many countries as an excuse to curtail basic freedoms.

Local media in Botswana reported that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) recorded 47 cases of corruption in relation to COVID-19 tendering processes. With 32 from the Gaborone region; 12 from Greater Francistown region and 3 in Maun region.

In regards to case backlog, the directorate had a backlog of 182 cases pending with the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) , this is in addition to cases that were still under investigation and corruption allegation reports that had been received. The corruption allegations included 69 COVID-19 reports which were received between April 2020 and May 2021. Out of the 69 cases, 27 were being investigated while most of the remaining cases were referred to the different ministries.

Generally, Bribery continues to impede access to basic services. In 2019, the Global corruption Barometer – Africa revealed that more than one out of four people or approximately 130 million citizens in 35 African countries surveyed paid a bribe to access public services like health care.

Unless these corruption challenges are addressed, many countries in sub Saharan Africa risk missing their sustainable development goal targets by 2030. Transparency International calls on governments to act on their anti-corruption and human rights commitments and for people across the globe to come together in demanding change.

Chief Executive Officer of Transparency International, highlighted that Daniel Eriksson; “In authoritarian context where control over government, business and the media rests with a few, social movements remain the last check on power. It is the power held by teachers, shopkeepers, students and ordinary people from all walks of life that will ultimately deliver accountability.”

Continue Reading

News

Major public services shake-up looms

24th January 2022
Emmah

Public Servants should brace themselves for some changes as the government is in an overdrive mode to overhaul the public sector. The government has also set the tone for the looming changes as it has added the public sector to its looming list of major and sweeping reforms.

This is contained in a savingram from the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Emmah Peloetletse’s office showing how the government intends to “take stock” of all reforms in the public sector through the establishment of an inventory.  Peloetletse’s savingram addressed to various ministries and the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) reveals that the government is working around the clock to implement some changes in the Public Service.

The savingram reminded Permanent Secretaries of various ministries and DPSM that the public sector reforms unit (PSRU) at the Office of the President is mandated with Coordinating Reforms across the Public Service.  “This essentially entails providing the strategic guidance and facilitation in the implementation of reforms across the Public Service. In this endeavour the Unit has in the past with Technical Assistance from European Union developed a template for documenting Reforms in the Public Service and documented ten (10) major reforms across the Public Service,” reads the savingram in part. It added that “The Unit has lately rolled out the Change Management Framework in an effort to facilitate effective and efficient management of change in the Public Service.”

According to the savingram, it has been noted that for a variety of reasons the use of the template for documenting reforms has not been universally used across the Botswana Public Service.  It further states that to facilitate the documentation of the reforms it is essential that an inventory of the various reforms across the Public Service (Central Government, Local Government and State Owned Entities) is established.

“By this correspondent we are seeking your assistance in populating the attached template to provide basic information on the various reforms. The PSRU will, through the various Coordination of focal Persons facilitate the full documentation of the reforms once the inventory is established,” the savingram further stated. The copy of the template among others calls on the focal persons to fill out them form under several headings; they include title of reform, start date, reform objectives, reform components, reform components, progress status.

The savingram echoes President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s announcement last year during his state of the nation address that as a nation Botswana has set itself a lofty goal of becoming a high income country by 2036 and has come up with a list of reforms among them digitisation of government infrastructure. He said the path to achieving this goal dictates that, Botswana takes deliberate steps that will transform its institutions; the way Batswana think and the way they act.

“It is with this in mind, that I presented a Reset Agenda in May 2021, with the following priorities: Save Botswana‘s population from COVID-19, by implementing a series of life saving measures that include a successful and timely vaccination programme, Adherence to COVID-19 health protocols remains key and align Botswana Government’s machinery to the Presidential Agenda, to ensure that the national transformation agenda will be embodied in the public service of the day,” said Masisi. He added that, “this will come with significant Government reforms in all public institutions. We need greater agility and responsiveness like never before in the delivery of public services.”

Continue Reading

News

Covid-19 Task Force meddled in tenders-report

24th January 2022
Dr. Kereng Masupu

The Presidential COVID-19 Task Force reportedly meddled in the awarding of tenders for COVID-19, a new Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has revealed.

The Committee expressed concern that it has noted that there are two centres for covid procurement being the Ministry of Health and the Covid Task team in the Office of the President. The report says the Committee questioned the Accounting Officer on why the COVID 19 task team is usurping the powers of the Ministry of Health by engaging in covid procurement when the Ministry of Health is the one which has the experience and mandate of dealing with the pandemic. The report says clarification was also sought on why direct appointment is the preferred method for covid procurement.

“In her response the Accounting Officer stated that the task team was mainly engaged in the procuring of quarantine facilities and was assisting the Ministry of Health due to the heavy workload brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic,” the report says. The report says the Accounting Officer further stated that direct procurement was used because COVID 19 was treated as an emergency and that procurement was mainly from companies that have been traditionally used by the Ministry of Health.

“This however, is not the case as there has been report of new companies being awarded COVID -19 contracts. The use of direct procurement method should only be used in exceptional cases as it’s a non-competitive method which increases the risk of inflated pricing and close relations with particular suppliers to the detriment of others,” the report says.

It says since most covid procurement fell under emergency, there is need for openness and transparency regarding the procurement.  The PAC recommended that in order to ensure transparency and accountability all COVID 19 related procurement should be periodically published in the PPADB website giving full details of the companies receiving procurement contracts and the beneficial owners of the companies.

It says with the passage of time the impact of covid is no longer unexpected so direct awards should gradually be abandoned as the medium and long-term needs of the pandemic can now be predicted. “Judgement should be used even during direct awards to ensure that prices are not higher than the market prices,” the report says.

In a related matter, the report says the Central Medical Stores (CMS) was unable to cater for the required quantities of medical supplies with order fulfilments of about 35% resulting in shortages and insufficient drugs to Athlone Hospital and the surrounding clinics.
“In his submission the Accounting Officer had indicated that CMS was unable to supply the exact quantities required by the hospital and surrounding clinics due to the fact that supplies from CMS have to be rationed in order to cover other facilities around the country,” says the report.

The committee expressed concern about the inadequate supply of drugs to government facilities which puts the lives of patients at risk due to non- availability of essential supplies. It recommended that the Ministry identifies and prioritise measures that need to be taken to ensure that there is adequate supply of essential medicines which are needed in the public health system.

Meanwhile the report says the Ministry of Health and Wellness coordinates the operations and functions of some institutions which receive government subventions and secondment of staff from the government. These institutions include 10 NGO’s, two mission Hospitals, three mission clinics and two schools of Nursing.

It says in its endeavour to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of government support to NGOs the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development developed some Policy Guidelines for Financial Support to Non- Governmental Organisations.  According to the PAC report, the guidelines were meant to ensure that there is consistency, accountability and transparency in administering public funding to NGOs. However, the Ministry of Health did not comply with the very important guidelines.

“The main areas of non-compliance were the following: (i) There was no Evaluation Committee to vet proposals from NGOs, in some instances NGOs had formed part of the evaluation forum when their requests were being considered,” the report says.  It says there was continued funding of NGOs even when they failed to submit narrative and financial progress reports; and (iv) Continued funding of NGOs that failed to submit audited financial statements and management letters as required. The Committee expressed concern at the lapses in the administration of grants by the Ministry despite the large sums of public money awarded to these NGOs.

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!