Monday, June 21, 2021

Cash strapped BMC hunts for partners

The cash strapped Botswana Meat Commission has placed advertisements in the international media seeking potential partners to run the Maun abattoir.

BMC closed the Maun abattoir in 1996 following a dreadful lung disease that forced Government to kill all cattle in the Ngamiland District.

But Government has recently come under political pressure to re-open the abattoir.

So hostile have been public sentiments against Government delays that recently President Ian khama had to dispatch Vice President Mompati Merafhe to Maun and surrounding villages to address Kgotla meetings on what government is doing to get the abattoir reopened.

Even as Government is under pressure to reopen the Maun abattoir, BMC operations across the country have come under strain as a result of cash flow problems.

The Commission was forced to offload some of their off-shore operations in London and Cape Town.
The financial woes come in the wake of a similar situation four years ago when Government had to inject millions of Pula to help sustain the commission when it faced near closure.

The result has been a piling of pressure on Government to sell the assets to private investors.

When the CEO, Motshudi Raborokgo left recently analysts predicted that at the instance of the shareholder, the Board of Directors had elbowed him out to allow a change of guard as a forerunner to privatization.

In their requests for expression of interest adverts flighted across major media outlets in South Africa, BMC says the Maun abattoir is currently being refurbished to its previous slaughter capacity of 100 cattle per day.

“In addition the abattoir will also have a heat treatment facility to enable it if need be, to pre-cook meant to an internal temperature of 80 degrees Celsius.”

The cooking will be to facilitate the movement of the meat from Maun to the cannery in Lobatse during times of Foot and Mouth Disease scenarios in Ngamiland.

If all goes according to plan, BMC plans to slaughter 23000 annually when doing maturation chilling and “about “30000 cattle if the meat has to be heat treated for transferring to the Cannery in Lobatse.”

The Commission says plans are ongoing to slaughter seven days a week, at which rate throughput will increase to 42 000 a year.

The abattoir which has been lying idle for close to 20 years has lately put Government under pressure to say just when it will be open.

Before the abattoir was closed in 1996, it had been approved for export to the lucrative European Union market.

“It is intended that once Foot and Mouth is eradicated in Ngamiland and the area is declared Foot and Mouth Disease free, that approval will be sought to export to the European Union.”

Getting a business partner will not be easy, not only due to the scarcity of the technical expertise being sought, but also because as it stands the Maun abattoir can only sell its products inside Botswana.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper