Masire revelations shocking

Former president Sir Ketumile Masire last Thursday appeared before a Parliamentary Select Committee investigating irregularities at the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC).

Before Masire appeared in front of this committee that is otherwise known as the Reatile Committee, a number of commercial farmers had given evidence. They revealed how the BMC is run like a mafia outfit that is systematically keeping away Batswana from the cattle industry.  In the evidence of these farmers, there is a name that is always cropping up; that is Cliff Marshal, the former General Manager for Procurement at BMC. Marshal has been described as a shrewd, smart and competent manager. It appears this Marshal was more powerful than the BMC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) as he was the one calling the shots, determining who should get feedlotting business from the commission and who shouldn't.  From the evidence so far given, this Briton was a powerful individual.  Most of the commercial farmers who benefited were Caucasian at the expense of Batswana.  Last week the committee was told by former BMC CEO, Dr Mochudi Raborokgwe that BMC is in dire financial straits because of shenanigans by some board members who served their own selfish interests to the detriment of the company.

Raborokgwe was CEO from 2003 to 2010.  He alleged that some board members put their interests ahead. He also said the board took over and literally ran the BMC. Raborokgwe said: "They had a direct interest in getting the highest prices because they were farmers. They thought that I wanted to stop them from achieving their selfish ends."  The former CEO also talked about rumours of attempts to "take over the BMC".  Raborokgwe said he was receiving reports from London to the effect that whites controlled the beef industry in South Africa and Namibia and that the same would happen in Botswana. Subliminal racism at its best! Talking of racism, even Masire was not spared Clive Marshal's disdainful treatment when he first became a feedlotter for the BMC where a racially motivated conspiracy for control was allegedly in force. Masire said when the BMC begrudgingly gave him cattle to feed after a year of struggle; the animals were a surplus from the favoured white feedlotters. That was when it dawned on him that there was a monopoly that he described as the work of an organised group of selected white farmers that had developed in accordance with "the wisdom of Marshal".  If a former head of state is treated like that what about an ordinary Motswana cattle farmer? This is scandalous because it is the ordinary Motswana who has made the BMC what it is today. It might not be making any profit today, but we don't forget the fact that after independence Botswana was renowned for her beef exports and relatively cheap prices. But following Masire's revelations, it is not difficult to see that there is a cartel manipulating the industry, hence the exorbitant price of beef in a large cattle-producing country in the region and Africa.  Surely state should not be seen to be helpless in a matter like this one. It certainly has enough leverage and muscle to deal with anyone bent on snatching a national asset from the government and its people.  We are not saying what Raborokgwe, Masire and other farmers told the Reatile Committee is the gospel truth, but the revelations are shocking to say the least.

Editor's Comment
Women unite for progress

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