Some fuming Francistown councillors have called on Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Patrick Ralotsia to resign after learning that BMC Francistown abattoir has been shut down.
The councillors said Ralotsia had promised them that the abattoir would not shut down when he addressed them a few weeks back but he has since somersaulted in a savingram that he sent to the city council.
In the savingram, which was read last week in a full council meeting, Ralotsia indicated that government has shut down the plant due to low output. It is reported however, that there were no job losses; the Minister highlighted that employees at the plant have been transferred to Maun and Lobatse abattoirs.
At the time he addressed the civic leaders, Ralotsia indicated that the plant was running at a loss due to low number of cattle slaughtered at the state of the art facility. “The abattoir has been struggling to reach the target of slaughtering 380 cattle per day for the past 10 years. At times the abattoir slaughters zero cows in a day which does not make business sense. The government incurs operational costs to keep the plant running with no returns,” he said.
He continued; “This issue has been dragging for a very long time so we as politicians have to tell our electorates the truth about the state of the abattoir. In 2005 the abattoir killed only 43,855 cattle while in 2006 the plant slaughtered 41,452.”
According to Ralotsia, a number of factors are contributing to the current predicament of the abattoir. Amongst the factors, Ralotsia said, are that farmers are not selling their cattle to BMC complaining about low prices offered by the Commission.
He also noted that farmers are grouchy that BMC is taking too long to process their payments after selling their cattle. The minister noted that the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in the northern part of the country at times affects the output of the abattoir.
BDP nominated councillor; Peter Ngoma was the first to launch the attack on Ralotsia. Ngoma revealed that Ralotsia lied to them that the plant will not shut down. “Ralotsia must resign because he does not qualify to be a public figure, he instructed us to look for cattle to keep the plant afloat but he has taken a decision to close the abattoir,” Ngoma said, indicating that they are aware that the plant has been sold to some individuals.
Another BDP councillor, Godfrey Kaelo even suggested that Ralotsia should be fired from the ruling party. BCP councillor Sennye Matsoo said government is trying hard to make Francistown a ghost town by shutting down organizations that were employing the locals.
At the end of the meeting the irate councillors resolved to seek the audience of President Mokgweetsi Masisi in an effort to reverse the decision to shut down the plant.