Botswana cannot force Zimbabwe, through its Cold Storage Company, to buy live cattle from local farmers as has been the norm in the past, says Chief Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture Boikhutso Rabasha.
She was responding to a questionnaire from Sunday Standard, which sought clarity on whether recent reports in the Zimbabwe media that the company had taken a decision to stop buying live cattle from Botswana were true. Rabasha said one of the reasons that could have led to the company deciding to stop importing cattle from Botswana could be that Zimbabwe is trying to destock as it is also facing a severe drought situation.
“Another reason could be that there are foreign currency restrictions in the country which states that foreign currency can only be used to import essential goods. Maybe they don’t deem importing live livestock to be a priority,” she said.
However, Rabasha declined to comment on whether CSC had paid off the P1 million that it has been owing the government of Botswana for years now as payment for live cattle. Earlier this year, Minister of Agriculture Patrick Ralotsia admitted that CSC still owed Botswana government the P 1million, adding that the company has been promising to pay up. The P 1 million is payment for cattle that were sold to the company during destocking in the north east some years ago after the outbreak of foot and mouth in the region. CSC has been a major market for Ngamiland farmers whose cattle were banned from the European Union market after several out breaks of foot and mouth.