The Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) is deliberately being “driven to the ground” through privatisation to render it easy prey for some BDP “fatcats” and their cronies.
This is the contention of Shaffie Pandor, the Alliance for Progressives’ parliamentary candidate for Lobatse. He replaced Walter Sebate, who pulled out of the race two months ago to focus on a business project. Pandor told The Midweek Sun that now that BMC was being privatised, there was need to audit the institution first. “BMC has a lot of land so if it is privatised where does this land go?” he asked before offering an opinion.
“We know that one of the reasons BMC was driven to the ground is because some “fatcats” including some BDP members and their cronies were eyeing the lucrative vast land owned by the company,” he said. Although BMC’s spokesperson Brian Dioka had not responded to our questions at press time, the beef parastatal has insisted in past comments that the company’s restructuring was motivated by market demands rather than politics. BDP’s secretary general Mpho Balopi was not immediately available Tuesday at press time either. Pandor, who is unfazed by his late campaign trail, said that he could not refuse when his comrades asked him to step in.
He is working closely with seven youthful AP council candidates.
Lobatse is one of the highly contested constituencies in the country. Former MP Nehemiah Modubule is fighting to regain his seat under the Botswana Movement for Democracy ticket.
Orapeleng Kakoma of UDC is promising fresh leadership, while Kamal Jacobs who lost the BDP primaries has resurfaced as an independent who curiously was recently launched by Botswana Patriotic Front patron Ian Khama.
It is a nail-biting race and the tallied results will have many on the edge of their seats when they are finally announced. But Pandor is confident that AP has what it takes to turn around Lobatse which has now been branded a “ghost town.” Economic revitalisation, he said, was vital and the fact that Lobatse is the oldest town in Botswana carries rich historical heritage which could be tapped into to create tourism returns. He also pointed out that shortage of water is a big and urgent problem in the town. He warned President Mokgweetsi Masisi not to touch the funds allocated to NS2 Master Water Project in Lobatse. “In the unfortunate event that Masisi takes power, he should not consider touching that money because it was set aside to improve water in Lobatse,” he said.
He added that many people in Lobatse still lived below the poverty line to the extent that many households still cannot afford to connect power in their homes. The 44-year-old is no political novice. He sits on the AP central committee. His political roots can be traced to Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). He dumped the party in 2016 following the Bobonong fiasco. He said he decided to join the AP because it upholds values that resonate with his political ethics. Pandor comes from a political family. His mother is a councillor for BDP in Phitshane Molopo while his father is political activist and BNF stalwart Hussein Pandor, known as “Matlhola-adibona,” a popular call-in listener to local radio stations.
His father was close to the late Kenneth Koma. His late grandfather, Soleiman Pandor, was a business and political activist with close ties to South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC).
He passed away in the 1970s after failing to get medical assistance in SA because he was on the apartheid government’s list of prohibited immigrants. Pandor joked that in his family they have “planted politics in their backyard.” Despite being from different political camps, Pandor said they have learned to appreciate that they are individuals with different ideologies.
He learnt political tolerance from a young age as he lived with his uncle, the late Isho Abdul, who at one point was Member of Parliament for Lobatse. “From that young age I saw different politicians visiting our family such as the late Michael Tshipinare, Quett Masire and Khama among others. “Although my political ideologies changed as I grew older, that principle of political tolerance stuck with me,” he said.
Pandor was born in Kanye but raised in Lobatse and completed his schooling at Gaborone Secondary School. He did his Tirelo Sechaba in Sua Pan during which he fell in love with tourism and worked in the Delta for many years but his love for politics remained.
He has served as treasurer for BMD South East region and was once interim treasurer for BMD in Tlokweng.