The Botswana National Beef Producers Union (BNBPU) which is calling far a leaner Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) has decried lack of consultation by government in the appointment of the parastatal’s 12 new board members.
BNBPU Spokesperson, Andrew Seeletso told Sunday Standard that they were unhappy that government had closed them out of the BMC board appointments.
This follows the appointment of Boyce Mhutsiwa as chairperson and members – Dr James Sento, Joseph Akonyatse, Thabang Botshoma, Pontsho Bonolo Montle, Mbaakanyi Lenyatso, Onkametse Kgotlafela, Tshepo Masire, Godfrey Mosimaneotsile, Gorata Gabaraane, Moraki Mokgosana and Rudy Lemcke.
Seeletso said this was unfortunate as issues engulfing the loss-making parastatal need concerted efforts from all stakeholders.
He said a well functional BMC was critical to the overall transformation of the cattle industry.
“The BNBPU is looking forward to a board that has the best interest of farmers at heart, a board cannot transform the BMC without taking on board farmers concern especially on issues such as payment of export parity prices, payments within the shortest period of time, preferably 3 to 4 days”
“BMC should support the liberalisation of the industry; they should support the establishment of a meat regulator and they should reduce operating costs as a matter of priority by creating a leaner BMC with a reduced work force” added Seeletso.
He said they still believed there was hope for BMC and have long proposed to government to allow farmers to own and control the parastatal through purchase of shares as this would help the cash strapped parastatal to raise the much-needed capital.
Seeletso stated that the parastatal has lost the plot in several key areas over the years.
He said government should be held liable for the failure of the parastatal as it made the CEO position a retirement post for its Permanent Secretaries instead of opening it up to competition by publicly advertising vacancies for the position.
“Government also took away ownership of the BMC from farmers who are its legitimate owners and failed to ensure that the parastatal has full control of its beef marketing functions. Furthermore, it failed to transform and instead stuck to outdated inefficient methods of delivering its products.”
He said the it must always be borne in mind that the more efficient the BMC operates as a business, the more money it can make to sustain itself, pay the farmer the highest possible price which will serve as an incentive to produce more.
Seeletso further indicated that it has always been in their interest to see the Francistown abattoir fully functional but only on the basis of economic prudence to benefit the farmer, also extending this to Lobatse abattoir.
“For instance, if it true that the Lobatse plant is old, inefficient and too costly to maintain, let us use Francistown. Otherwise, we believe that if the sector comes back on its feet and we increase the national herd significantly, eventually both abattoirs may be necessary” said Seeletso.
Seeletso stressed that the mushrooming of private abattoirs is an indication that BMC has failed farmers in general, adding that farmers have now resorted to private abattoirs as it gives them a better alternative to sell their products.
“Remember farming is a seriously capital-intensive undertaking, people have invested heavily, some through loans, retirement and other resources and they need to recover their investments and survive” said Seeletso.