Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) will need P500 million to turn its fortunes around, the Assistant Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Beauty Manake, has told the Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises.
Appearing before the committee this week, Minister Manake said the once successful parastatal that was the lifeblood of cattle farmers countrywide has accepted that it has serious problems. She was standing in for the Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Karabo Gare.
She said Irish Development International, an Irish consultancy, had concluded in early 2020 that the BMC would require P500 million to get back to profitability. It was a struggle for her to make sense to the assemblage of incredulous MPs wearied by tales of the perennial loss maker that has had no substantive CEO since 2018. The recent caretaker who was on an acting basis left this year February.
During a heated interrogation of the assistant minister, the committee pointed to the parastatal’s 2019 audited financials that show that it registered P106 million in losses and a P1.7 billion cumulative loss, saying this was unacceptable. She conceded: “The problem we are facing is bad management practices at BMC.” Manake said the BMC was also held back by legacy issues that date back 10 years.
BMC to appoint CEO
The last Acting CEO, Dr. Boitumelo Mogome-Maseko, left under unclear circumstances in February this year. “We are almost at the tail end of recruiting a CEO,” Minister Manake said, adding that the process was delayed by policy direction implied in the BMC Transition Bill that sought to liberalise the parastatal and end its beef export monopoly.
However, members of the committee had their own queries in the matter. The Chairman, Dr. Never Tshabang, snapped: “BMC had appeared without a substantive CEO and we discovered BMC had not had a CEO for many years now and it has not been doing very well for several years.”
Resistance to requests of any more funding for the BMC was clear. Even so, Minister Manake sought to assure her sceptical audience that there was a light at the end of the tunnel for the BMC to turn its fortunes around.