The effects of banning vegetables from South Africa is being felt by the small scale traders of Botswana who have since resolved to approach President Mokgweetsi Masisi to convince him to reconsider his position.
The decision is as an incentive to encourage locals to participate in the economic growth by producing their own vegetables and empowering value chain. Even though they Small Scale Traders of Botswana agree with the decision, they content that they have realized that there is an economic downfall in the vegetable trading sector after the decision was taken.
“This move has clearly shown that there is a serious shortage in what our local farmers are producing. We have also come to realization that most of these farmers have just started commercial farming,” read a letter to President Masisi from the group. They further articulate that some plants barely survive due to Botswana’s climate conditions; hence the result in minimal output during the harvesting season.
“As the small scale traders, we find ourselves in a position where we are not given sufficient produce to the fact that our local farmers give first priority to chain stores. Our local farmers have buying contracts in place with such stores, this negatively affects us although we have the same buying power,” they further stated. The Small Scale Traders articulate that despite these challenges, they are still striving to strengthen their relationship with local farmers through communication and sharing of ideas and strategies on farming.
They commit to continuing to support local farmers by buying from them during harvest, only then the state can restrict importation of such vegetables. “The shortage is experienced mostly on potatoes, watermelon, maize, different types of onions and lettuce,” they added. The traders request that the restrictions on vegetable importation be lifted for a short period of time as the economic downfall has affected most families who are on the trading business negatively.
“This has directly affected our business continuity leading to some of us failing to fulfill our commitments such as paying up loans e.g CEDA, Letlhabile, Mabogo dinku. It even goes as far as being difficult to sustain living expenses such as water bills, electricity bills and others. We will be more than happy to meet up and discuss this matter with your office,” concludes the Botswana Small Scale Traders’ letter.
Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Racious Moatshe on the decision of desisting the importation of vegetables stated that the government should not be implementing laws that constrain people to do what they do not want.
“Although the government has introduced laws and regulations that makes some of the things compulsory, the willing heart and mind is better than an instrument of law that forces people to do what they have, intentionally do not want to do,” said Dr. Moatshe.
The Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security indicated that the decision was considered as early as 2018. Implementation was therefore effected in 2021 which the Ministry also state that, it was followed by more consultations with industry players.
In response to the Small Scale Traders of Botswana, the Ministry acknowledge to have seen their plead, and say it has been addressed to the Office of the President. “The current local production cannot satisfy the national demand, the import restriction was imposed in order to stimulate local production to levels that can meet the demand. The products were selected based on the current levels of production and capacity levels hence the restrictions are expected to ensure that the country increases production to meet local demand,” noted a statement from the Ministry.
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â€ť she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.