Almost every other week Ghanzi farmers are in the news, not so much about their lovely breed of cattle which I have come to admire so much, but they have been consistent in bashing the new Minister of Agriculture, the BMC Chief Executive Officer and their own national beef union – something which they did not do when Hon Mr.
Christaan de Graaf was minister and Mr Ian Thompson the BMC CEO.
In their recent outburst, made at a meeting that was reported to have been “highly emotionally charged” the Ghanzi farmers are at it again, trading vitriol to all those who are perceived to be anti-de-monopolization of BMC.
For that BMC will receive a six months long economic sanctions as punishment; the Ministry of Agriculture will be reported to the President through a protest march and they will secede from the farmers’ union to mark their displeasure.
The other day, it was the same farmers who had created a scene by camping at the BMC offices in Ghanzidemanding immediate payment for their cattle or their return, prompting BMC to scrounge for money from whosever and wherever in order to stop the embarrassment.
I cannot help but imagine that these farmers are mourning the loss of Mr De Graaf as a proxy hand to pursue some agenda.
This agenda, if you will recall, was first reported on by the Sunday Standard of 26 April 2009. The headline read: Khama foils plans to privatise BMC through the backdoor and it went on to report that “The plan, which was born from recommendations by Australian Consultants and backed by Minister of Agriculture, Brampie de Graaf, President Khama’s erstwhile advisor Nico Czypionka, a number of BMC board of directors and some powerful farming interests, involved stripping the parastatal and selling its pieces to some local and regional investors who had already lined up for the party.”
Since then BMC has never known peace nor have the cattle farming community. It was a dog-eat-dog setting resembling that of a marauding pack of wild dogs. This fight for control of the national abattoir reached its tipping point when David Falepau was forced to resign as BMC CEO in May 2012.
That he was replaced by a Board Chairman on a voluntary basis made all the other corporate governance failures pale in comparison.
And, in the midst of all that pandemonium the former minister tried to sneak in a bill in Parliament which would have given feedlot operators in and around Lobatse and Francistown unlimited access to the BMC slaughter slabs to kill animals for export purposes - a move which would have facilitated the asset stripping agenda reported on by the Sunday Standard Newspaper.
Coincidentally, the sponsors of this agenda were linked with the farming interests in Ghanzi, and needless to say the former minister is also from Ghanzi. I have not seen the reports by Legwaila Commission and the Reatile Commission both of which were involved with investigating some of these allegations, but I have no doubt that in some way, their findings have informed government policy decisions, some of which the Gantsi farmers are not happy with.
What I fail to understand is why the Ghanzi farmers seem to be oblivious to what has happened to BMC in the recent past under the watchful eye of one of their own. Did they say anything concerning the maladministration at BMC which has caused a near collapse of the entire beef subsector in the country?
Yes the Ghanzi farmers do have the right to complain to the President, and even walk all the way from Ghanzi to Gaborone in protest, but to secede and form their own farmers union, in my view would be a tactful blunder.