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Butcheries mull job cuts

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

MASERU — Local butcheries say they could be forced to lay off workers if the current beef shortage persists.

Lesotho has suffered a severe shortage of beef since South Africa banned exports following an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in that country. But despite the ban being lifted recently supplies into Lesotho have remained critically low.

Butchery operators who spoke to the Sunday Express on Friday said the situation remains desperate and soon they might soon be forced to retrench some workers to remain viable.

Already Bensons Meat Market, a meat wholesaler in Maseru, has cut some jobs because of the crisis.

Motaung Rego, a manager at the wholesaler, said since the crisis started in February they had been forced to retrench 10 people.

 “I have had to send 10 employees home because business is not good. That is bad because families are suffering,” Rego said on Friday.

“We still have rent to pay and cater for other operational costs,” Rego said.

He told this paper two months ago that his company was incurring losses of up to M15 000 a week.

Gilbert Mokoatsi, Pick n’ Pay butchery manager said they would have to start laying off workers if the crisis continues.

Mokoatsi said business had been badly affected by lack of meat imports from South Africa.

“Business is bad. The local meat market has been badly affected by the crisis. Some of us will have to stay at  home if this situation does not improve,” he said.

Mokoatsi said although they were still getting meat supplies from Meraka Lesotho Abattoir and Feedlot their products were not of good quality.

“Meraka is doing their best to supply us with meat but it is not of a good grade.

“We are running losses with their products because consumers are not happy. For instance, consumers who used to buy meat for about M1 000 per month are now buying for only M200,” he said.

He added that they managed to order meat from Botswana two weeks ago but that quickly ran out.

Efforts to get another supply hit a snag after the country also experienced an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

Mokoatsi said the Lesotho Department of Livestock had authorised local butcheries to import deboned meat only following South Africa’s lifting of the ban on beef exports.

“But a doctor in South Africa could not approve my order because he claimed that they had not yet communicated with the Lesotho government on this,” he said.

Machache Wholesales Meat Supplier general manager, Nthabiseng Kuoe, said they had also been severely affected by the meat shortage.

“We have insufficient meat supply. We appeal to the government to lift the meat import ban,” Kuoe said.

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