Thursday, October 28, 2021

How the meek’s assets are looted

The move by government to steal Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) from farmers is not an isolated incident, but just part of a grand scheme to hijack community assets, Sunday Standard can reveal.

In the case of the planned BMC expropriation, Cabinet has decided to sideline all interested institutions. Sunday Standard investigations have turned up information thatwhile the Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) and the Botswana National Beef Producers Union (BNPU) are in the process of privatising BMC, Cabinet is secretly placing in place its jigsaw puzzle to bamboozle PEEPA and BNPU.

Minister of Agriculture Patrick Ralotsia confirmed to Sunday Standard this week that he was in talks with Israel and Kuwait investors to invest in BMC.

PEEPA Deputy Chief Executive Officer Tiny Diswai-Moremi confirmed this week that they held a meeting with a delegation from BNPU to discuss the privatisation of BMC.

“Yes, I can confirm that we held a meeting with the union to discuss issues pertaining to the privitisation of BMC,” she said.

Diswai-Moremi could not discuss details saying; “I don’t have minutes of the meeting with me as we speak because I’m not in the office.”

She also confirmed that she was not aware of a proposal by Ralotsia to Cabinet to bring in Kuwait and Israel investors.

PEEPA is a parastatal responsible for advising government on privatisation strategies, which includes commercialisation, restructuring, outsourcing and divesture interventions for the effectiveness and efficiency of public enterprises.

BNPU Secretary General Abel Modimo also confirmed that they were not aware of government plans to sell part of the BMC to the Israelis and Kuwatis.

He described the move as an unsolicited bid that lacks transparency. “There has to be a process that is transparent and fair and not an unsolicited bid. It is an unsolicited bid and he is taking it to Cabinet for approval,” he said.

Modimo said a study should be carried out to make an assessment of the assets of BMC and also look at the regulatory framework.

“You have to ask international bidders to submit bids and that way you get value for money,” he said.

Modimo confirmed that they held a meeting with PEEPA management.

“Yes, it is true they called us to their office to inform us that they were thinking of privatising the BMC. They are undertaking a process to privatise the BMC,” Modimo said.

 Modimo added that: “Our understanding is that BMC is a famers’ cooperative. It was established by an Act of Parliament hence that does not make it a parastatal.”

The move by government to take away BMC from farmers is not an isolated case but part of a pattern by government to disinvest communities. As part of what appears to be a grand strategy, the Khama Administration two years ago usurped the management ofCommunity Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) sites from communities. Now rental fees from CBNRM sites no longer go directly to communities but go to government which then decides how to disburse it to communities. Government has also taken away the communities prerogative to identify and negotiate with potential investors. The Ministry of Tourism has annexed that role.

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