Tuesday, April 7, 2020

BMC missing P300 million

Untraceable P212 million worth of meat, P50 million in possession of a GPS company and a P220 000 loan to a union form part of issues at the heart of problems besieging the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) ever since the appointment of the acting chief executive officer (CEO) Dr Boitumelo Maseko-Mogome.  The Sunday Standard is in a possession of documents detailing how the BMC top brass lied to government from the time of former President Ian Khama’s administration to that of the incumbent President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

A document authored by a whistleblower shows that close to P300 million stands unaccounted for – a figure that is corroborated in documents seen which form part of a court case by some former BMC executives who are challenging their dismissal.Government has on several occasions bailed out the BMC but the entity is still struggles financially and some BMC employees are now calling for an investigation or a Commission of Inquiry.The BMC orchestrated a plan to lie to famers through a press release issued to the media in December which was retracted immediately at the insistence of the acting CEO.Some extract of BMC EXCo especially a conversation between one Saudu, Brian Dioka and Dr Tumie.“Team in view of the letter sent to farmers last week, I have advised the business to immediately withdraw/retract the letter to farmers just so we minimize the current inferno fanned by our stakeholders. Our efforts to withdraw starts today on BTV news at 7pm,and will in the same further advise that we also assist by refraining from sending any other communication on the matter without first seeking clarity with CEO’s office’’

In his response Saudi said: “Ooh ok. I thought the letter was just fine because we are just informing the farmers that, terribly low cattle supply is negatively affecting the business and if supply doesn’t increase. We will be forced to suspend production. Is that not a fact, or we will continue running production pretending that we are in business when we are actually suffocating? Imagine a supply of just 300 cattle in the next two weeks. We are bleeding the business even more if we are failing to suspend production under these circumstances leadership. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be forced to run at a loss by a few influential suppliers.”

Saudu gave a live example of an influential farmer by the name Munger who he described as someone who wanted BMC to run just for him and a few individuals arguing that he refused to be used. 

“I refused and told him that it will be irresponsible of me to continue bleed government asserts just for a few people. We shouldn’t hide this fact Brian. I would rather clarify any misunderstanding than to retract the letter. Who knows, the letter may actually prompt increased supply when producers and feedloters realize that BMC may close and their market will be limited. It is important to take business decisions even though at times, they may be unpopular. Right now employees just come to work to drink tea, accumulate leave days and leave when we could force them take leave,” said Saudi.Brian Dioka, then said: “Your views are noted Saudu and I would rather want the CEO officially engaged on the issue. I must however advise that there is a process and procedure to everything.”

In reply Saudu said he thought the CEO was informed about the letter to farmers that there is a crisis at the BMC but he was trounced and agreed with them that they follow the procedure as suggested by Dioka.Dr Tumie asked the parties to agree and make way forward for the benefit of other stakeholders than farmers alone.There was then a Public Notice dated 18 November 2019 where BMC retracted that their early public relations exercise titled: Lobatse BMC Plant planned Closure.The message was to tell farmers that there is no crisis and that famers should continue supplying BMC with cattle undeterred.

The notice further reads: “BMC is working around the clock to address delayed payments concern currently being experienced by the farmers/suppliers and BMC is hopeful that the matter will be resolved soon.”

Documents before court reveal that, Dr Mogome is very dishonest and lacks operational understanding and condemned the decision to withdraw a letter which was meant to advise farmers that there is a low cattle supply.“The withdrawal of the letter was not necessary but if there was any confusion it should have been clarified,” reads part of the letter.The BMC spokesperson Brian Dioka confirmed that some former BMC employees haave dragged the meat entity to court but declined to disclose some of the contents of the matter.

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