FARMERS ACCUSE RALOTSIA OF CRIPPLING BEEF INDUSTRY
Local farmers have welcomed President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s decision to relieve Patrick Ralotsia of his ministerial duties.
Ralotsia was dismissed from cabinet last week and replaced by Shashe West Member of Parliament, Fidelis Molao just months before parliament dissolves for the general elections slated for October.
The move has been celebrated by many in the farming fraternity, who feel the beef industry suffered greatly under Ralotsia’s watch.
“No one will ever get excited whenever someone is dismissed from work, but as farmers we were not happy with his contribution to farming,” Sandveld Ranchers Association Chairman, Kgosimang Molosiwa told The Voice this week.
Molosiwa says they had submitted several requests to government on behalf of Ralotsia, but never saw any progress nor received any feedback.
According to the Chairman, one of the requests involved asking government to allow them to export live cattle because of drought.
On top of that, he says issues of late and low payment of farmers by Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) were never attended to by the dismissed minister.
Ralotsia’s dismissal marks the sad end to an appointment that promised much but ultimately ended in disappointment.
A passionate farmer, Ralotsia took over at the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security in April 2015.
He had previously served as Assistant Minister to Christian de Graaff before the latter asked to be released from cabinet in order to focus on his health.
“Even though we are not saying we are celebrating his dismissal, we however believe he failed the beef industry. As such we welcome his removal,” stressed Molosiwa, who had words of advice for Ralotsia’s successor, Molao.
“We pray that he looks at things his own way rather than being guided by history of how things were done in the past,” cautioned Molosiwa, further urging Molao to, “Work in consultation with the farmers; involve them in every step of the way and do not make the mistake of making the industry his own.”
Reacting to the news in similar fashion, Botswana National Beef Producers Union (BNBPU) accused Ralotsia of ruining the beef industry.
“As a person he is a good person. He listens but his problem is that he doesn’t deliver,” fired BNBPU Secretary General, Abel Modimo.
He claimed the outgoing Kanye North MP made many promises to the farmers but failed to deliver on a single one.
“We have always wondered what his problem is because the industry is under crisis and this happened under his watch,” asserted Modimo.
He says as farmers they regularly offered advice to the minister as well as submitting proposals on how to resurrect the beef industry. However, he says this fell on deaf ears.
Modimo believes the industry needs a decisive leadership and advised the new minister to look into three areas as a matter of priority.
The first he says is to restructure BMC so that it returns to profitability.
Secondly, to ensure the imminent opening up of the export market for both beef and live cattle.
Lastly, Modimo says Molao should see to it that BMC is privatised as a matter of urgency, with part of it given to farmers.
Ralotsia, who will not be contesting in the upcoming elections, was not available for comment by the time of going to press as his phones were unavailable.