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Why the chicken consumer is bleeding


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.”

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Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.

These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.

The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”

The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.

“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”

Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.

The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.

Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.

One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.

But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.

One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.

Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.

In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.

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Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.

Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.

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Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.

According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.

“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.

A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.

In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”

While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.

Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility.  Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.

For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies.  European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.

It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.

The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.

“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”

“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.”
The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”

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