BOTSWANA has been struggling to recover P1 million from the Cold Storage Company (CSC) for the supply of cattle under a 2011 agreement with Zimbabwe.
Botswana and Zimbabwe signed a memorandum of understanding in July 2011 under which close to 30 000 cattle from the neighbouring country’s foot and mouth disease (FMD)-infested zones were to be imported for direct slaughter at CSC abattoirs in Bulawayo.
The two countries agreed that some of the cattle were suitable for consumption.
But the Botswana government decided to stop trading with Zimbabwe after CSC failed to honour its side of the deal to remit 60% of the income gained from meat sales. Under the agreement, 20 000 cattle from the Ngamiland area were to be exported to Bulawayo.
However, Botswana’s Agriculture Ministry permanent secretary Marcus Chimbombi was quoted saying Zimbabwe had promised to pay up.
“They have not given the reason they are failing to pay, but we are continuing with follow-ups. However, it is worth noting that from the two batches that have already been delivered, they have paid a lot of money which is well over P10 million. The balance owed to us to date is P1 million,” Chimbombi said.
According to the Botswana Gazette, Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) chief executive officer Akolang Tombale said the debt is not being administered by them.
“They are being pursued by the government through the Ministry of Agriculture, not us as BMC. As for the resumption of live cattle exportation, we have not started yet, but they had promised that they would have acquired the permit by last week. We are still waiting to hear from them,” Tombale said.
Struggling meat processor CSC needs at least three years to boost its dwindling national herd presently estimated at slightly above 600 cattle at nine farms countrywide.
The importation of live cattle from Ngamiland in Botswana into Zimbabwe was suspended after the trading permit expired on January 31.The suspension affected farmers in Ngamiland who had benefited as their beasts are banned from the European market due to FMD that usually breaks out in the area.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development minister Joseph Made signed the deal to import cattle from the neighbouring country.