The Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Meat Commission, Dr. Akolang Tombale, says that the valuation of the Commission is ongoing.
“We have engaged a local consortium to assist with the valuation and expect the project to take a year to complete,” says Tombale, revealing a moment later that the consortium is made up of Standard Chartered Bank and Collins & Newman law firm.
The valuation is part of spadework required for BMC to bring a strategic partner on board. Tombale says that the meat processing at the Lobatse abattoir was built in 1955 and because of its age, attracts prohibitively high maintenance costs. This state of affairs makes it impossible for BMC to sell meat processed in this plant to its most lucrative market ÔÇô the European Union. Tombale says that the strategic partner will fund the modernising and rehabilitation of the plant.
“But first we need to value the business itself,” he adds.
Explaining the involvement of Collins & Newman, Tombale says that the sort of partnering that they have in mind will affect the Botswana Meat Commission Act and the latter’s involvement is meant to provide the requisite legal advice.
The upcoming ownership arrangement might cause anxiety among small farmers who have long relied on BMC to sell their cattle. Such anxiety would have been stoked by allegations made two years ago at a parliamentary enquiry on the Commission that a plot was being hatched to privatise it and keep small farmer out. However, Tombale gives the assurance that nothing will change. Some 80 percent of cattle sold at BMC come from small communal farmers while the remainder is from large commercial farmers.
“We need both groups of farmers,” Tombale says.
He adds that in order for the communal farmer group to earn better profits from BMC, there is need for them to improve the quality of the cattle they sell to the abattoir. Speaking to journalists in 2013, Tombale said that measles caused by failure to build toilets at cattle posts cost the Commission some P73 million. This measles would have been caused by human waste which cattle (later sold to BMC) consumed. This meat cannot be sold to the EU which pays 54 percent more than South Africa ÔÇô Botswana’s second most lucrative beef market.