Disgruntled Francistown entrepreneurs have appealed to Government to intervene in the rising trade of imported goods which they say, kill their businesses.
Their concerns were raised during a Local Enterprise Authority’s (LEA) recent three-day media tour of the second city and surrounding areas.
Echoing the sentiments of many of his fellow entrepreneurs, Pihi Agrochemicals Director- Pius Malikongwa, said he was being put out of business by the influx of cheaper, foreign imports.
“People get temporary permits from South Africa and then sell exactly the same things we are selling here. Local farmers leave us and buy the imported agrochemicals,” grumbled Malikongwa, whose company offers agricultural services and supply livestock feeds.
“Those people selling imports are not paying tax and they offer much lower prices, thus killing our businesses,” he said.
Zwikwetjekwetje Farm’s Director, Kelebogile William, warned that if the government does not intervene soon, many local businesses will die.
“We are competing with South Africa and Batswana leave us to go and buy there. They buy all their horticultural products in SA and our products end up rotting on the shelves,” said William, who grows an assortment of vegetables, including green pepper, cabbage, onions, beetroot, spinach and tomatoes at his Gulushabe farm near Tonota.
The problem is not confined to the agricultural sector, with the founder of Bush T Fashions, Keatametse Tuincy Tabushwa revealing it affects the clothing industry as well.
“Most Batswana nowadays buy and sell second hand clothes from other countries, thus leaving us with no customers. This is very worrisome as they should be the ones encouraging us,” said Tabushwa, whose company produces and distributes formal wear, ranging from wedding gowns to evening dresses.
Tabushwa’s concerns were echoed by Francistown Knitters Senior Manager, Peter Mathambo, whose company contends with competition from Chinese shops operating in Francistown.
“The Chinese are now selling school uniforms and our customers prefer them over us because of their cheap prices. Even the government is deserting us – for example, the police knit their uniforms in South Africa. It is very worrisome if the locals do not recognise goods produced by their own people,” said Mathambo whose family business has been operating in Francistown since 1982.