Agricultural Development and Food Security Minister Patrick Ralotsia has told farmers in Francistown that government intends to privatise the ailing Botswana Meat Commission (BMC).
Speaking at a consultative Meeting to discuss BMC’s future with beef producers, Ralotsia said government considering a 50/50 partnership stake at the Lobatse abattoir, selling the Francistown operation to private investors and keeping its 100% stake at the Maun abattoir.
“Government will keep a 50% in Lobatse and offer the other half to private investors. We will keep running the Maun Abattoir. As for the Francistown abattoir we will have private investors show an expression of interest to run it. Our intention is to have it run by private owners,” Ralotsia said noting that over the years the Maun and Francistown have had to rely on the Lobatse operation to pay some of their costs as they could not reach their targets and make a profit.
Minister Ralotsia went on to say that before this is done, a few laws will have to be changed to accommodate the new developments.
“There will be a review of the laws governing the meat industry so as to accommodate the new arrangements,” he said adding that this will be looked into after he reports his findings to cabinet next month.
Meanwhile a lot of farmers at the meeting felt that they should be given time to make recommendations to government on what they think should be done with the Francistown abattoir as they feel that selling it to investors may not be in their best interests.
Speaking on behalf of fellow farmers, Fransisco Malesela said they need to be given time as farmers to deliberate on their own and look at the disadvantages and advantages of the impending privatization.
“We would be pleased if the minister could postpone reporting to cabinet to a later date so that we may give him our recommendations,” he said.
In his reaction to the beef producers concerns, Minister Ralotsia said he was not in a position to postpone the report to cabinet date but assured them that their concerns would be looked into.
“The recommendations that cabinet will reach will consider your recommendations,” he said assuring them that there will be more consultations in the future before cabinet takes a final decision on the matter.