The Ministry of Agriculture notes with concern a front-page article entitled “Khama foiled the plan to privatize BMC through backdoor”, which appeared on the front-page of the 26 April 2009 edition of the Sunday Standard newspaper.
In the report, the newspaper makes the false and unfounded allegation that the current Minister backed recommendations to privatise BMC.
We take particular exception to the fact that this allegation and other inaccuracies contained in the report were published online as well as in print without first confirming them with us. This, in our view, is in clear violation of the basic norms of journalism.
In the interest of putting the record straight, we wish to further draw the public’s attention to the following facts:
Contrary to what was reported in the article, the Ministry has never adopted any plan to privatize the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC). While it is true that the Privatization Policy had identified the BMC as being among the country’s institutions that could be privatized, the Ministry has not initiated such a process.
The Ministry and BMC have, instead, been in partnership with the Australian Consultants, GRM International, in exploring ways to assist in the restructuring of the BMC.
It was in the context of this assessment that options were put forward as to how the BMC might enhance its marketing of beef to Europe. The matter was presented to, discussed and decided upon by the BMC Board, who decided to keep Allied Meat Importers. In this respect, the board acted on its own authority without reference to the Minister.
We wish to further note that the BMC is a national institution, which has been established by an Act of Parliament. As such its assets cannot be sold off as suggested in the article without proper consultation by Cabinet and other concerned parties. To suggest otherwise shows lack of understanding of how decisions are made within Government as well as provisions of the BMC Act.
Further to the above, we take this opportunity to note that the only abattoir whose privatization was approved by Government was the Maun Abattoir, which was to be sold to interested bidders or, in the case of no buyer being found, leased to the highest bidder.
The decision to reopen and run the Maun abattoir by the BMC came about after no buyer or lease for the facility was identified.
In light of the above the Ministry is of the view that the Sunday Standard retracts its false statements with regard to the Minister.
Micus C. Chimbombi