MP’s thwart De Graaff move to end BMC monopoly
by Calistus Bosaletswe
A bill that seeks to end the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC)’s monopoly on the exportation of edible products from cattle was dealt a big blow for the second time when parliament deferred the bill this week.
Members of Parliament thwarted Agriculture Minister Christian De Graff’s intentions to end the monopoly, saying that the move would result in the BMC being owned by a cartel while thousands of farmers in Botswana remain disadvantaged.
The bill that came before parliament this week had been protested against by farmers associations who asked the Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower to intervene before the bill was retabled before parliament this week.
Botswana Democratic Party back backbencher, Daniel Kwelagobe, informed parliament to debate the bill that he feared might cripple small farmers.
Kwelagobe advised the minister to defer the motion pending consultation with the national assembly. He was worried that the presentation that was made by the Minister was not convincing enough for MP’s to make a decision on whether the bill should be supported or not.
He said that the bill itself lacked clarity on the move to end the monopoly, further noting that the minister should consult with the National Assembly before he could attempt to bring the motion in parliament for MP’s to debate it.
Tati East MP, Guma Moyo, expressed his fears on the issue, wondering how the ending of the monopoly would affect small farmers around the country.
Moyo maintained that as long as Batswana have committed themselves in driving the economy through cattle rearing there is need to tread carefully in ending the monopoly.
Moyo called for a forensic audit to find out what could have led to the BMC’s alleged bankruptcy.
De Graaff denied that farmers had not been consulted about the Botswana Meat Commission Amendment bill.
He said that thorough consultations were undertaken.
De Graaff noted that he was going to table the bill in parliament in the July session.
The bill seeks to end the BMC export monopoly of cattle and edible products from cattle. Some farmers in the Southern District have complained that the ministry had not consulted them.