He came close to calling the probe an abuse of taxpayers' funds. He said he was called before the task team and made a 30-minute powerpoint presentation and addressed the team for more than 1 hour 30 minutes. He also submitted several documents to the task team. "I am horrified that even though these documents show bad decisions by the board and how consultants cost BMC hundreds of millions, they appear nowhere on the task team report.
The task team only highlights problems in cattle procurement and the Direct Cattle Purchase (DCP) programme," Marshal told the Reatile Parliamentary Special Select Committee investigating the collapse of the BMC and the cattle industry yesterday. He was appearing for a second day after his first appearance last Thursday.
Other members of the Parliamentary committee are MPs Gilson Saleshando, Kagiso Molatlhegi, Moeng Pheto, John Toto, Prince Maele, Frank Ramsden, and Parliamentary support staff."I find the report bizarre that the task team ignored all that information. The task team in my view was extremely flawed," he responded to a question which sought his view on the credibility of the task team.
He added that he was very disappointed by the task team.Marshal who joined BMC in 2007 said that the commission lost P532 million in the last four years, but the task team ignored the huge loss and focused on the P42 million lost through the DCP.
`he argued that problems started when GRM Consultants presented a strategic plan for 2009-11, in which they projected to slaughter 172,000 at a P150 million profit, which he doubted was achievable. He proposed 132,000 cattle instead, Marshall said. The other problem, he argued, was the P2/kg price increase for cattle producers in 2009, which was maintained for years even during 2011 when BMC was delisted from the European Union market, and was struggling financially.
This, he maintained, cost the abattoir over P100 million in the two years it was in place, but the board refused to stop it until it was very late.Another problem, he said, was the poor financial controls that bled the abattoir more millions of Pula. He said in some instances, the chief financial officer would resign and then a general manager would take over, then he resigns leaving a consultant to take over leaving BMC running short of millions of Pula.Another problem, he said, was that a London based company, IMI, that was responsible for marketing Botswana beef was in fact dominant over BMC when it was supposed to be the other way round.
He described the relationship between IMI London and BMC as dictatorial in that the company called the shots in almost everything, and the BMC management did not have access to the EU market. As more revelations came out, Marshal told the committee that constant fights among BMC board members and poor management of the abattoir by previous chief executive officers (CEO), including Dr David Falepau have cost the BMC a lot of money.
"Blow by blow question and answer session between the committee and Marshal"
Question: What can you say are reasons that led to the situation that the BMC and the cattle industry are in today?
Answer: I think we should get into perspective - how bad some things can be, such as the P2/kg issue. Things were running in the right direction had it not been for this P2/kg. The main issue at BMC was the throughput. End of 2010 we were in good shape until we lost the EU market. We could not do anything to divert, market, or invent.
The EU loss compounded a number of issues among them product over-pricing, high operating costs, low throughput, no marketing, DVS keeping us thinking that we will get back to EU soon -
making us buy more cattle.Poor financial controls, poor marketing, inability to respond to situations led to the 2012 meltdown.
Question: After losing the EU market, was it impossible for BMC to look for other markets elsewhere?
Answer: In writing, the IMI London is a subsidiary of BMC, but in practice it was the other way round. IMI dictated everything to BMC. There was no capacity for the BMC to market its product resulting in stockpiles of our product in cold rooms, and ultimately dumping it in the South African market. I think the recent engagement of GPS is a good idea.
Question : During those four years of losses, was the management aware of the problems?
Answer: Yes, we were aware of the problems, but there were many things that were left unaccounted for. There was no response to requests for an accountant for DCP, other reasons were that there was no budget for the programme, or the CFO would just come listen to our presentation and never return.
Question: Where were internal auditors during this mess?
Answer: David [Falepau]phased them out in favour of something else. After his arrival we were not allowed into board meetings, but we would occasionally be allowed in, so we didn't know what was being discussed.
Question: You say you were abused in the media, what steps did you take to correct the problem?
Answer: Yes, I was. Even at a farmers' meeting held in Palapye I was racially abused by some farmers who called me British. It was dreadful, but I attended the meeting anyway. The management failed to protect me. It was like a firing squad.
Question: You seem to have been frustrated at BMC, you had a vision but others didn't share it. The CEO and board didn't pay attention to you. Why didn't you find another avenue for instance the political leadership - the minister or confiding in the area MP?
Answer: I said in my statement that I'm a professional cattleman. If you are working for a brand, a company, and you have a strategic plan you try all to make it a success. Appealing to my seniors I thought it was a good cause. I didn't seek outside intervention because I believed they will sort the problem out. I think the best thing I should have done was leave.
Qyestion: What's your view on BMC monopoly?
Answer: There are six reasons to support my argument, but in a nutshell I think BMC needs to be where it should be before we can think about another player. People who are calling for another abattoir are doing that out of frustration due to BMC inefficiencies and not for economic reasons. BMC should reach the 200,000 target first and fix all these problems I have mentioned in my presentations.
Question: If you were given a chance, would you go back to BMC?
Answer: I love my job and I am passionate about it, but I would not put myself through that again. I have been accused of many things, all of which I did to defend the BMC from meltdown.
Question: What can you say was the minister's role in all this?
Answer: The minister held regular meetings with the board. I had very little to do with him and I presumed that he got the right information from his permanent secretary. But what has been happening in the past 18 months is embarrassing to get where it is without him knowing. Our interactions were minimal and he did not hinder my work.
Question: How was your relationship with Phillip Fischer?
Answer: It was bad. When I left the Hurvitz Group to join BMC he was not happy and did everything to oppose it.