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Councillor Defends Foreign Traders

FRANCISTOWN: Councillor Ignatius Moswaane has defended foreign traders in Francistown whom he said are being treated shabbily.

Moswaane, for Monarch South, was among the councillors who on Thursday took turns to take shots at the mayor's Monday speech at the opening of the Francistown full council meeting.

He said as a city, Francistown is in the business of trying to woo investors, and luckily some of these investors do not need too much cajoling for them to come and set up shop here.

"It is just that those that end up establishing businesses here are treated so shabbily. For licences and work permits to be processed it takes up to three months. By that time the investor has lost confidence and moved elsewhere where he or she will be accepted without much ado.

"There are also no guidelines on what the investors must do when they come here. For example, if an investor needs a plot, it is only at the licence hearing that they are told whether they have succeeded or not.

"When their applications are rejected, they are told that the business they are intending to operate is not compatible with the plot they applied for.

"Some have been given licences only for them (the licences) to be withdrawn without prior warning," said Moswaane.

During tea break, when approached by Monitor to clarify his accusations, Moswaane cited a company called KSK that distributed imported and used vehicles in the vicinity of Chedu Choga.

He said the council just came and closed the business without giving the owners prior warning.

"That company employed seven Batswana who are now jobless. Where are they going to find jobs when life is so difficult nowadays?"

Moswaane said most of the foreign investors are of Indian, Chinese and Somali origin who suffer at the hands of council personnel, especially junior officers who on realising they have committed an error of judgement, are experts at covering their tracks.

"We are supposed to be creating an enabling environment for investors in this town and yet the few investors that we attract here are left frustrated.

"You can imagine just how many more of these investors end up not coming here when hey hear of the shoddy treatment meted out to their counterparts," charged Moswaane.

As for Tabengwa Tabengwa, of Ikageng South ward, he threatened to manhandle Mayor Buti Billy and shove him into his car and drive him to the notorious Marimavu Road, which he said was a nightmare to motorists because of flooding.

Tabengwa said on Wednesday, he called the City Clerk, Kesentseng Kebabonye, around 5pm to ask her to go and see the road for herself, but she declined saying it was late.

"I have been talking about this road for a long time even when David Modisagape was the city mayor.

Even today, I am still talking about that road. When are you going to listen to me? When is something going to be done to this road? he asked.

On another aspect, Tabengwa, who kicked off his discourse by requesting the council to engage in self-introspection after discussing issues in the chambers because some of them (the issues they discuss in the chambers) are not implemented.

He decried the fact that there are many areas within the city where street lights are not working and yet the council continues to pay the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC).

"What is it we are paying for if we do not get service for that?" he queried.

Another councillor expressed his unhappiness with the way traders in this city are allocated space to conduct their business where there are no ablution facilities for them to use.

"You will have to realise that these people prepare magwinya (fat cakes) for their customers and they handle other food items which they sell. Where do they wash their hands in order to practise hygiene?" he asked.

(02 March, MONITOR)

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