The Zimbabwean government has not yet settled the outstanding balance of over a Million Pula for the life cattle it bought from Botswana way back in 2012 and no convincing explanation is forth coming as to when the debt would be paid.
The Ministry of Agriculture has confirmed that Zimbabwe is yet to settle the P1 239 000 balance of the cattle which were slaughtered at its Bulawayo’s Cold Storage Commission (CSC) and has been postponing the payment since then as it says it is financially constrained.
According to the Public Relations officer in the Ministry, Boikhutso Rabasha, the debt is part of the payment of 26 503 cattle which were exported to Zimbabwe in 2012 from the Okavango and Ngamiland areas.
“Farmers were compensated P1700 per head by the government because their area, which is Zone 6 was declared Foot and Mouth Disease infected. Therefore instead of government burying the cattle, the Cold Storage Commission in Zimbabwe offered to buy the cattle for consumption since they did not have cattle for slaughter,” Rabasha responded to a brief questionnaire this week.
The two governments entered into the trade agreement in 2011 in an effort to improve the beef market of the two countries. Initially, the two countries which both had areas which were prone to the Foot and Mouth cattle disease entered into a joint disease control programme along their common border and later signed the agreement of the live cattle sale.
Zimbabwe was to import about 30 000 head of cattle for direct slaughter at Bulawayo and a number of heifers which it was to exchange for slaughter stock with its farmers. This was expected to bolster the growth of the Zimbabwean herd by accelerating calving rate while at the same time reducing over population of slaughter stock in the delta areas of Botswana.
Botswana was to sell at least 2 500 cattle a month to Zimbabwe. But the deal collapsed a few months into the cross border trade when CSC failed to pay BMC huge amounts of money despite the initial agreement that it would pay Botswana government as the cattle were delivered for slaughter.
However following further negotiations, the trade resumed again after the amount owed was paid. The new rules of the game were that the CSC pays forward before cattle are delivered.
“Note that the live cattle which are sold from Ngamiland, are paid for upfront when the Zimbabweans need them, so that the BMC pays the farmers what is due to them,” Rabasha explained further.
Just before the trade commenced between the two countries, the Zimbabwean government had given the struggling CSC a grant to rebuild the depleted national herd.
Media reports from Zimbabwe suggest that when the two neighbouring countries signed the trade agreement in 2011, CSC’s viability was questionable, but both countries were desperate to grow their beef industry and took the risk. Botswana, through the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) needed a market for the Okavango and Ngamiland cattle which were being shunned by the European market due to the frequent outbreaks of the foot and mouth disease in the delta and Zimbabwe wanted more cattle to slaughter and to restock its national herd.
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.
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.
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.