July 5, 2020

Board brought down BMC – witness


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php80.tmpIsaiah Morewagae, Staff Writer, Mmegionline

Former general manager in charge of finance at the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), Mpho Gabonewe, has said the board is responsible for the crisis engulfing the parastatal.

He told the Select Parliamentary Committee investigating BMC and the decline of the beef industry yesterday that board members wasted a lot of money on meetings that did not add value to the commission. He said some board meetings were held in the Cayman Islands, a development he described as ludicrous.

He found it absurd that one of the Cayman meetings lasted for 10 days. He asserted that if there was any pressing issue that needed to be addressed at the Cayman Islands, the meeting should have lasted for a day or should have been held in Gaborone.

He said that even locally, board members wasted the commission’s money on meetings that would add nothing to the parastatal. He said that at BMC, there were no governance principles, as board members would always have the final say on decisions irrespective of whether they were good for the organisation or not.

He decried the lack of respect to the then chief executive officer Dr Motshodi Raborokgwe, which he said made things worse at BMC. Gabonewe added that the Raborokgwe-led team tried to raise the red flag as early as 2010 about trouble at the parastatal but was shot down by board members.

“At one of the board meetings that we attended with my CEO, he tried to present a paper on the status of the commission but he was not be allowed to do so. There was this dominant section of board members and whichever decision they want would be adopted but those that they did not want would never see the light of day,” Gabonewe explained.

He said all this happened when Mmapula Modise was the board chairperson. Gabonewe said at the time, GMR Consultancy had just given the board a proposal which painted a picture that all was well within the BMC.He said GMR made a presentation to the board that the strategy in place would see the commission make up to P150 million in profits.

But Gabonewe said the management presented a parallel proposal showing that the commission would be in deficit. “The board used the GMR proposal against anything the management was trying to say. In fact, the GMR seem to have been working against the management and the board preferred what they (GMR) had put forward,” he said.

Gabonewe is convinced that with the type of board members BMC had, the decisions made and governance structures in place, no CEO would have succeeded at the commission. He pointed out that the dominant board members were cattle producers who opposed anything that had to do with reducing the buying price of cattle.He added that lack of political will compounded problems at BMC.

When pressed to explain what he meant, he said that for example, BMC was forced to increase the buying price of cattle after political leaders announced that the parastatal will do so. “Under the same token, such leaders when they saw that the commission was not doing well and the market prices were dropping, they should have gone back to the constituents and explained the situation.

“This was done in Namibia, announcement was made for price increase and when the prices went down the same political leader went back to the constituents and explain the situation,” Gabonewe said.

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