Marshal joined the commission in 2007 at the invitation of then BMC CEO Dr Motshudi Raborokgwe. He said that he has no tertiary education in agriculture, but has experience in cattle production going into decades. He said he has worked for big cattle producers in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Botswana.
"Around July 2011, the DCEC informed me that they were investigating seven allegations of conflict of interest. I gave them my statement in May 2012. They were investigating my association with some commissioned buyers and feedlotters, among them the Hurvitz Group, Golden Spring, Lobatse Curio Internet Services and Betta Beef," he said.
He told the Parliamentary committee investigating the decline of the beef industry in Botswana that he once worked for the Hurvitz Group, and knew some individuals in other companies through job-related contacts. He revealed that problems started when a company called GRM presented a strategy to the BMC board aimed at increasing cattle flow to the parastatal. The presentation was supposed to be made in June 2011, but it was forced to a later date in October 2011 due to a dispute between GRM and its partners in London.
The strategy was that GRM would procure around 172,000 cattle within a specified period of time, with a profit of P150 million to the BMC. Despite the months that passed during the delay, the presentation remained the same, he told the committee."The board was very pleased with the presentation, and the possible P150 million profit.
However, I had reservations that the strategy was unachievable, and I communicated that to the parties. I proposed that we should reduce the figure to 132,000 cattle, but nobody was willing to listen to me," he said. He told the board that the proposal came at a time when BMC had increased by P2 the money it paid to farmers, which cost P48 million in losses in 2009, and P87 million the following year.
"We were then heading towards P130 million losses for the coming year, and my requests to drop this P2 were ignored. The board was more interested in the P150 million that had been projected in the GMR presentation. I tabled a motion to remove the P2 during another meeting with the board and ministry officials and it was met with resistance. I eventually lost my temper and used words for which I was reprimanded," he said.
However, the P2 was a minor problem compared to the fact that BMC continued to pay the Export Parity Price (EPP) at par with the South African one, yet BMC had been delisted from the EU and making no money at all, he said. The board ultimately voted against the P2 and it was removed, albeit very late.
Marshal said the Direct Cattle Purchase (DCP) scheme was also taking funds from the abattoir, but it kept the abattoir operational. The problem, he said, was that the finance department ignored the impact of the scheme and continually ignored his calls for an accountant dedicated only to the scheme.
He made several requests to no avail, he said. In one incident, he said one feedlotter liquidated his own company with 3,500 cattle without informing BMC, leaving the cattle with no feeds. "I had to make a plan to see to it that we found feeds for the cattle, and in the process, BMC lost P800 ,000 which was somehow paid to the feedlotter. No explanation was given," he said. Another feedlotter, he said, was caught underfeeding his cattle and BMC lost P1.2 million in the process. "And when I communicated this to the CEO he said I should write them a warning letter. I was furious about it. P800,000 lost, and now P1.2million," he charged.
What the Parliamentary committee heard about DCP and feedlots
* They are good for the transfer of cattle from communal farmers (90 percent) to the abattoir.
* Their contracts were standard and renewable every 12 months
* It was imperative for BMC to identify a feed supplier to monitor the type of rations fed to the cattle
* Feedlots were a good way to increase the population of weaners and cattle production
* No farmers were interested in the feedlot business in the north of the country, hence two farmers were identified and given special dispensation and a P650,000 advance after spending millions of Pula building feedlots. One of the farmers returned the money, whilst the other still has not despite promising to do so.
* Marshal owned up to an email in which he leaked board discussions to feedlotters in the north, but argued that he was trying to assure them that he was doing something to address their challenges.
*The feedlotters in the north faced challenges of finding cattle due to FMD outbreak in Matsiloje, and ultimate EU delisting
* Some feedlotters are greedy and they want more cattle at the disadvantage of upcoming ones, hence the inequalities between white and native Batswana.
* Former President Sir Ketumile Masire complained at a time when he was being assisted to have his feedlot competitive.
* Marshal denied that he was favouring any feedlots, saying some of them personalise issues when their demands are not met.