The Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) troubles are far from over, at least from the latest full year financials results, the once Africa’s top and glorified meat corporation has registered a loss of P106 million during the year ended 31st December 2021.
This was revealed by Assistant Minister of Agriculture & Food Security Molebatsi Molebatsi in Parliament on Tuesday. Molebatsi was answering a question from Member of Parliament for Lobatse Dr Thapelo Matsheka. The ex-cabinet Minister, former BMC board chair wanted parliament to be appraised on the performance status of the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) to date.
The Lobatse lawmaker also wanted to know whether the delay in the recruitment of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Commission is not negatively affecting the restructuring of the Botswana Meat Commission. Dr Matsheka further demanded answers on when the BMC Transition Bill that was passed by Parliament years back will be implemented.
Answering the questions, Assistant Minister Molebatsi revealed that the recruitment of new BMC CEO is on course, noting the preferred name will be put before cabinet for approval by end of this month. The new CEO is expected to immediately initiate massive restructuring to transform the commission back to profitability and its glory days.
“We had previously identified someone who would bring world class experience and expertise, but looking at what he was demanding, we realised we couldn’t afford him, we therefore revisited our other shortlisted candidates,” Molebatsi told Parliament.
Lawmakers were further told that Botswana Meat Commission debt to Government stands at over P1.3 billion having accumulated from capital injections that Government pumped in over the years to keep the commission afloat.
In the latest financial year ended 31st December 2021, the Commission registered a loss of P106 million from a marginal profit of P3.5 million in the year ended 31st December 2020, unaudited financial results have revealed.
This is from Maun and Lobatse abattoirs only, the Francistown abattoir was shut down and placed under care and maintenance in 2016 after operating below capacity and making losses for years. However Assistant Minister Molebatsi who is also Member of Parliament for Mmadinare said BMC is “coming back”.
He revealed that from 1st January to 28 February 2022, BMC had already slaughtered 3029 cattle compared to 561 same period in 2021 raking in P20.1 million in revenue from meat sales, against P11.4 million same period in 2020.
On BMC privatization the Junior Minister said the process is underway to explore options and see which avenue would be best to privatize the commission while maintaining Botswana DNA and interest of farmers. ”It’s a process that takes time, we want to come up with the best model to make sure that Batswana and farmers would continue getting the best out of BMC”. He said.
Botswana Meat Commission was established in 1965 to buy, slaughter, process, and market of all beef and beef products within Botswana for sale in local and to international markets. The commission has been protected from export competition, with several privately owned and local council abattoirs, as well as large scale local butcheries having been restricted to supply only the domestic market.
BMC Act gave the commission a monopoly over the export of beef and related products and also prohibited the export of live cattle. The EU quota – which is specific to Botswana – also means that the BMC always faced little or no competition in the EU from other beef exporting countries. Despite the monopoly and all these privileges, the BMC continued to experience both administration and efficiency problems.
Calls to restructure BMC have been on for years. At a Budget Review Seminar in 2018. First National Bank Botswana Chief Executive Officer Steven Bogatsu said “why do we still operate Botswana Meat Commission in this model while its making losses year in and year out?”.
Bogatsu cited Botswana-De Beers relationship as a benchmark model “we have a good relationship with multinational corporations like De Beers why can’t we adopt the same model for BMC and take the beef industry to the next level?” Calls to reform the entire Beef Sector come up in many policy discussions, lawmakers and academics and farmers suggesting that it was high time government do away with BMC monopoly.
Government decided to end BMC monopoly and liberalize the beef industry and open up the market in 2019.Work is currently underway to set up a meat regulator, a regulatory authority that will oversee the entire beef industry affairs, that is everything from prices, operating licenses, quality assurance, to corporate governance.
Prices for cereals or staple foods in Botswana and other Southern African countries continue to rise at a slower pace, following trends in the global markets, according to the latest November 2022 Food Price Monitoring and Analysis by Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
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Botswana Institution Of Engineers (BIE), has last week hosted a gala dinner in which they appreciated engineers who worked tirelessly and with dedication for 10 years from 1983 to steer the BIE to its current status.
The event that was held at the Phakalane Golf Estate had brought together young, experienced and veteran engineers and was held under the theme “Vitalize the dignity and eminence of all professional engineers”.
Explaining the theme, the institution’s treasurer, Thanabalasingam Raveendran said that engineers were looked upon reverentially with respect as the educated but with time it seems to have deteriorated. He indicated that there is a need to change the narrative by all means.
“The BIE exists for the welfare and the betterment of us Botswana engineers, we need to recognize specialised units within our Institution. We Engineers strongly believe in Engineers make it happen” Raveendran said.
He indicated that under the theme they appeal to all engineers to energize, to attain quality of being worthy of honour and respect and to achieve recognized superiority amongst the Society.
Raveendran stated that engineers need to ensure their end product is of good quality satisfying the end users expectations and engineers must be honest in their work.
“Approximately 8000 engineers registered with Engineering Regulatory Board (ERB) are not members of the BIE, engineers need to make every effort to recruit them to BIE” he said.
He alluded that BIE being a society, it currently needs to upgrade itself at par with professional institutions elsewhere like the UK and USA.
He further stated that BIE has to have engineering units of specialised disciplines like Civil/Mechanical/electrical etc
“As President Masisi indicated in his inaugural speech, the young people, who make 60 percent of the population of this country, are the future leaders and therefore investing in them is building the bridge to the future” said Raveendran
Kandima indicated that BIE has a memorandum of Understanding with Engineers Registration Board (ERB), where BIE is a recognised provider of CPD training, mentorship programmes and more importantly IPD undertaking to upgrade the skills and know-how of our engineers.
“For us to achieve our mandate and make worthwhile changes to engineering in Botswana, we have to be totally focused and act with intent” said Kandima.
Furthermore, Stephen Williams, past president of the BIE from 1986-1988 told the engineers that the BIE provides a fertile environment where they can meet, share ideas and grow professionally.
“The BIE is also a nesting place for graduate engineers to learn from their peers and seniors, it also cater for engineering technicians and technologists and so nobody in the technology field is left out” he said.
He further indicated that Botswana Government provides a conductive environment for growth of engineering professionals.
“It must be stated that the Botswana Government recognises the existence of BIE and it can further be stated that the government enables ERB to carry out its mandate as a regulator of engineering professionals” said Williams
He plead with engineering companies to recognize and support BIE as it is the only source of engineering personnel’s for various Industries .
Furthermore, when giving his farewell speech, Michael Pinard , a past president of the institution said how they are viewed as engineers by the general public might be due to some lack of appreciation as to exactly what role they play in the development of the country.
“The BIE slogan is aptly coined-Engineers make it happen, in other words, what man dreams engineers create” Said Pinard.