Saturday, December 9, 2023

De Graaff blamed for BMC collapse

Former Botswana Meat Commission Chairman, Botsile Gubago, this week stopped short of saying Minister of Agriculture, Christian De Graaff, was responsible for the collapse of BMC.

Testifying before the Committee investigating the BMC maladministration, Gubago said all hell broke loose at BMC as soon as De Graaff was appointed Minister of Agriculture. Among the many charges brought against De Graaff is that he brought in a number of board members who undermined the BMC and opened the door for political interference.

Gubago told the Committee that among De Graaff’s appointees to the board was former Agricultural Hub Coordinator, Neil Fitt, who “brought confusion” and had a “tendency to undermine the BMC”.

Gubago explained that in the past, Ministry of Agriculture officials were not directly involved in the running of BMC, but this changed with the appointment of De Graaf, breeding tensions between the ministry, BMC board and management. He said the political interference brought about the BMC collapse.

The Committee also heard how De Graaff’s brother-in-law, who was appointed to the board, dabbled in collusion and insider trading. Gubago told the Committee that at some stage De Graaff’s brother in law told Gantsi farmers to stop selling cattle to the BMC on the one hand while on the other hand he was pressuring the BMC board to hike cattle prices.

Gubago said he warned De Graaff in-law, who was sitting on the BMC board, that his behaviour was bordering on criminality. He said this was some of the issues that clearly indicated that there were private parties who wanted to take control of BMC.

Former Finance Manager, Mpho Gabonewe, on the other hand detailed how the BMC board connived to milk the commission. He told the committee how the board had turned into a talk shop that would convene for days on end with the sole purpose of increasing sitting allowance claims for board members.

Gabonewe indicated that some of the meetings were not important to the BMC. He said in some cases, board members went to the extent of doing the job assigned junior staff members and then went on to claim sitting allowances.
Former Agriculture Hub Coordinator, Neil Fitt, said he knew that there were some board members who were inefficient and were not serving any purpose in the BMC board.

He added that the inefficiency of some board members contributed to the collapse of the BMC. Fitt, who has been accused of bringing confusion at BMC, also noted that there was infighting at BMC. He admitted that the BMC was likely to collapse since the board, management and a consultant that was appointed to restructure BMC were always fighting. He further stated that Ministry of Agriculture officials were aware of the infighting at BMC.


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