On Friday last week, the Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) announced start of work towards ending the Botswana Meat Commission’s (BMC) beef export monopoly.
PEEPA chief executive officer, Obakeng Moumakwa revealed that Deloitte Consulting has been selected as the preferred Transaction Advisors for the concession of the Maun Abattoir while Minchin & Kelly are the preferred Consultants for the Privatisation of BMC. We hail the move on the part of government in an effort to liberalise the beef industry. Quite clearly, the BMC privatisation has long been overdue when one considers its past travails.
However, as it stands, many observers fear that the privatisation of the Commission would result in loss of jobs, as new owners will shed off excess labour to improve efficiency and also cut the workforce to prepare for privatisation. There is uncertainty about job losses when BMC is privately owned.
The situation is even more dire and suspicious in that where privatisation has taken place, it was accompanied by loss of jobs. Issues of efficiency only arise at a later stage when people have already lost their jobs!
Although Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Jimmy Opelo has somewhat tried to allay fears of relating to job losses, the question is; what are the guarantees that the future BMC owner would retain the current Commission staff? It is really an issue
Already the country’s unemployment levels are high, more especially following the closure of the BCL mine three years ago. Thousands are roaming the streets looking for elusive jobs. There are already reports that hundreds could be laid off once the exercise commences.
This calls for clarity from the authorities as what exactly would happen. Some of the interventions could be in the form of government’s commitment to save their jobs. If what Opelo said on Friday that the privatisation of BMC would lead to no job losses is truthful, then the exercise would be a wise and commendable decision. Just like Opelo said, the privatisation should bring about more benefits to Batswana, particularly farmers, as it directly impacts on their livelihoods.
We therefore advise that the exercise should address concerns and suggestions of all stakeholders to ensure the exercise is fair, transparent and in the best interests of all. It also should advance government’s commitment to employment creation and economic diversification.
Therefore, we urge the government to keep its word and ensure that the jobs of the BMC staff are safe and protected when the abattoir embarks on its new journey.