Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Investigations over BMC saga still on-going

Circumstances leading to the closure of the Botswana Meat Commission are still being looked into as the Ministry of Agriculture attempts to dig deep into the saga.

Amid allegations of corruption and maladministration by the Department of Veterinary Services and BMC leadership, Botswana’s beef industry was closed indefinitely.

The development hit the farmers and the country hard as neither could sell for sustenance in an industry heavily dependent on European countries to export beef.

“Investigations are still going on,” was all the Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Oreeditse Molebatsi, could reassure the legislators Thursday as they wanted to know the progress of the investigations surrounding BMC closure.

The Parliamentary Select Committee has since been appointed to investigate the matter amid persistent calls by the legislators across the political divide for such a move.

Last year, BMC was confronted with allegations of maladministration and corruption practices as tonnes of beef exported to the European Union were recalled because the beef was found to have a substance called salinomycin.

The revelation precipitated the closure of the facility, leaving farmers stranded as they could not sell to BMC, which has the monopoly to sell to the EU.

The development also blighted the country’s economy, which is heavily depended on the third income earner industry after tourism and diamond sectors.

“I confirm that about 100 tonnes of meat products from BMC exported to the European Union last year (July) was recalled because they included meat products that were tested and found to contain residues of salinomycin, which is a banned substance in Europe as a growth enhancer,” said Molebatsi. Salinomycin and other residues are not part of the normal testing that is carried out prior to the dispatch of meat products but rather done as routine surveillance for residues as part of National Residue Surveillance plan. Testing for residues is done randomly in samples collected from cattle in farms/cattle posts and/or meat from abattoirs.”

It is a continuous activity should such surveillance detect any suspicion of the presence of growth enhancers or residues of any banned substance, and may result in the cattle or meat products are quarantined and detained whilst confirmatory tests are done.

Molebatsi would not comment on insinuations that there are some countries in the West that practice and permit the substance and allow Botswana to sell to such countries.

He admitted to the sale of the products neighbouring African countries because of the recommended levels of salinomycin in those countries.

The actual costs incurred by BMC in recalling the beef is P3, 183.086.

Following uncertainties and allegations over salinomycin and the subsequent recall of Botswana meat products, Palapye MP Moisaraeala Goya confronted the assistant minister via a parliamentary question.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper