The closely controlled poultry industry in Botswana has resulted in inflation of the general poultry meat prices by 65 percent, as key players in the local industry enjoys government protection at the expense of ordinary consumer, WeekendPost investigations can reveal.
This publication has established that the retailers and franchised fast food outlets are forced by the Poultry Licence Committee (PLC) to procure their poultry meat from local producers precisely Tswana Pride (Pty) Ltd, which controls about 90 percent of the market – and its associated companies.
This has resulted in retailers and fast food outlets buying poultry meat from few local producers who dominate the market at exorbitantly higher price than they would have if they were allowed to buy directly from South African producers.
WeekendPost has also established that although some measures were initially put in place for the best interest of all local poultry producers in Botswana, it has transpired that smaller producers are not able to benefit due to their inability to meet both quality and quantity demands of the franchised international fast food outlets like Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Chicken Licken, Hungry Lion and Nandos among others.
With the Tswana Pride (Pty) Ltd having superior advantage in terms of infrastructure and capacity, small producers have been taken out of the game. Currently, Tswana Pride (Pty) Ltd is the sole producer which is approved by the Kentucky Fried Chicken to supply its franchisee in Botswana. Other producers are not licensed to supply KFC with poultry meat due to infrastructure, quality and quantity limitations, effectively giving Tswana Pride (Pty) Ltd absolute monopoly over supply of poultry to KFC.
This publication has also learnt that when the demand is high, local fast food outlets and retailers apply to PLC for permit to procure meat from South Africa for a certain period of time. This however has not been able to bear fruits as lack of storage facilities will either force them to procure not enough or engage Tswana Pride (Pty) Ltd to procure from South Africa in large quantity and then sell to them.
This results in local retailers and fast food outlets buying poultry meat at higher prices much more than they would have, had they been allowed to directly from South Africa. Tswana Pride (Pty) Ltd’s monopoly and prices control has inflated the chicken prices meat in Botswana, making it more expensive than in neighbouring South Africa.
Tswana Pride (Pty) Ltd General Manager Wayne Du Toit said the quality of Tswana Pride and its associated companies’ meat is up to standards and revealed that it has never encountered problems with its buyers over the quality of their products.
However, according to the information gathered by this publication, the bone of contention is the price at which Tswana Pride (Pty) Ltd offer its products to fast food outlets especially when it comes to poultry meat which is imported from South Africa, “When we import on their behalf, we consider storage costs because we purchase in large quantity and have to supply throughout the country,” he said.
“The retailers and most fast food outlets do not have the capacity to do so, which means we share the benefits 50-50.”
Currently Tswana Pride and its associate companies slaughter 160 000 chickens while South Africa producers are able to slaughter 20 million chickens on average every month. Botswana has not been able to meet some demands of chicken meat products like the ‘wings.’
Some of the franchisers who spoke to the WeekendPost have stated that they are aware that some big local poultry producers charge enormous prices after importing at a lesser cost from South African poultry giants. Managing Director for Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Africa, Doug Smart confirmed in an interview that: “we are aware of this and we’re looking into this further and working to build our own local supply chain.”
Out of the 12 KFC restaurants operating across Botswana, he said they have only four local suppliers in Botswana and one supplier in South Africa. According to Smart, KFC Botswana sources their chickens from local suppliers that meet KFC’s high quality standards and specifications.
“Where there is a supplier shortfall, product is then imported from approved South African suppliers. All fresh produce is sourced from local suppliers and other ingredients including spices and breading are sourced from South African suppliers,” he said.
The KFC Africa Managing Director also highlighted that their local (Botswana) suppliers are Tswana Pride, Bidvest Food Service, Mr Veg, adding that Digistics is their South African provider. Although he said in terms of the ownership of their suppliers, he is not at liberty to disclose their information but WeekendPost can reveal that Tswana Pride (Pty) Ltd is owned by powerful businessman Satar Dada, who is the sole local supplier to KFC in Botswana.
WeekendPost has established that the company has benefited due to some import restrictions which unable KFC to import certain products which include poultry, eggs and fresh produce. Although this publication has gathered that the recent closure by KFC is attributed to failure by their supply to meet their high demand, the KFC Managing Director also shared insights that: “the temporary closure of the KFC restaurants in Botswana is due to the restaurants experiencing difficulty in securing approved KFC ingredients.”
While Smarts stated that KFC believes in supporting the communities in which they operate, he however said they are working closely with local suppliers to develop a local supply chain for ingredients that meet KFC’s quality standards – while also ensuring the volume demands of the local KFC system can be supported by supplier capacity.
KFC chicken franchise counterpart and competitor Nandos, through the Brand Manager Simiso Ncube said in their brief interview that “Nando’s Botswana aims to engage local suppliers wherever possible, for our chicken and all other ingredients.” She however would not be drawn into discussing whether they are aware of certain big poultry local producers buying from across the border to re-sell with a higher price to the franchisers.
Investigations by this publication further reveal that at the end of the day, the ordinary man on the street suffers more due to the hefty tariffs on chickens on the shop shelves. This is exacerbated by the fact that franchisers and shops also skyrocket the prices after producers do the same. She said they have two poultry meat suppliers which are both local and have fifteen outlets across the country.
Meanwhile Botswana Poultry Association Chairman Ishmael Mosinyi asserted that the big poultry man has pushed small man against the wall, and therefore now it’s the ordinary man on the street that suffers most.
He said the challenges they face as small poultry producers cascade down to consumers as big producers may charge exuberant prices as they see fit – to consumers.
“Big poultry producers have put their teeth on the market and have proper infrastructure and therefore meet expected standards,” adding that as small poultry meat providers they have been kicked out by big firms and franchisers’ set of high standards.
Chicken Licken Managing Director Saizel Ismail also shared the same sentiments that the local suppliers cannot meet demand and therefore they get authority to import from South Africa if they fail to meet demand.
“Locals get authority from Poultry Association Board to import supplementary poultry meat from South Africa to complement the demand. All suppliers and buyers meet to discuss poultry decisions and authorise suppliers.”
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.