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By Richard Moleofe
Last week the Chairman of the Mogoditshane/Thamaga Sub-District Council told a harrowing story overRadio Botswana on how one family in Tsorogwane Lands near Kumakwane was attacked by Zimbabweans like a pack of wolves.
Their huts were torched and they were prevented from salvaging any valuables by the axe-wielding attackers. The arsonists were pouring their vengeance on this family for giving the police information on their illegal sand mining operations. This is an industry that has been completely taken over by Zimbabweans.
The rule of law doesn’t seem to apply when it comes to dealing with our neighbours to the north. Zimbabweans are a law unto themselves and they are on complete free range on certain industries in this country. They are breaking the law in such a way that no other country including theirs would ever entertain their behaviour
I must acknowledge that there are good Zimbabweans that are helping grow certain industries here and we appreciate their contribution to the economy. Farm workers are generally Zimbabweans as a majority of our able bodied people here suffer from acute laziness.
The agro industry and particularly horticulture is sustained by Zimbabweans. In Oodi/Matebeleng, citizens have rented out their fields to Zimbabweans because they are failing to put them to productive use. Our import bill on horticultural products has been significantly reduced.
There are two major industries where Zimbabweans reign supreme. The trucking and sand mining industries are at the top of the list and remain to be the most prominent ones. Citizens here have slowly been elbowed out of the trucking business as Zimbabweans are doing everything to dominate it. They charge ridiculously low prices in order to attract their clientele.
How do Zimbabweans get to achieve charging low prices when the price of diesel has been on an upward trend? The trajectory that fuel prices has taken does not seem to affect them. There are well organized fuel syndicates amongst them and they are run efficiently in order to achieve uninterrupted fuel supply.
The lawful and legitimate industry has been penetrated by Zimbabweans through legitimate means. They got jobs as drivers and they created their own little OPEC in this country. The drivers steal diesel and sell it to an organized criminal racket that would sell it to their fellow citizens who are operating their own transport businesses.
They are literally not affected by the pump price and this helps them to charge something below the market price. Only a few oil producing countries can outclass this kind of pricing
The trucking business is so dependent on this illegal business. In fact the illegal fuel business is the lifeblood of the illegal sand mining because the sand has to be transported from the rivers to the customers. Their customer base is a hundred percent Batswana. We are aiding and abetting the theft of sand which results in the degradation of our environment.
There is a general moratorium on the mining of sand from our rivers. The Department of Mines is no longer issuing new mining licences for sand in southern Botswana. Yet we see trucks loaded with sand from Metsimotlhabe river everyday.
Knowing and understanding that our police officers are very thin on the ground, there is not enough action to stop the illegal sand mining. Stern action needs to be taken against these people who have no regard for laws of our country. Zimbabweans will not behave in this manner in their own country and yet they want to render ours into becoming a banana republic.
When these Zimbabweans are not doing sand in the day time, they pick rubble for the construction industry. While everybody else takes theirs to Gamodubu Landfill, the Zimbabwean outlaws take it to the nearby bushes within the boundaries of Greater Gaborone.
In 2012 government struck a deal with farmers in the Mmopane area requesting them to vacate their fields to make way for the airport extension and Gaborone expansion. Farmers were given a notice of six months to have vacated their fields. Out went the farmers and in came the litterers.
Zimbabweans are specialists in causing environmental harm to our country. They just don’t care because they have a second country to go to once ours suffocates under the dirt. Surely something needs to be done to avert a catastrophe in our country.
The Zimbabwean problem is not new and by now we should have found a permanent solution. We need to create enforceable laws and the penalties should be really high.
Zimbabweans have totally changed our way of life. Senior citizens can no longer spend a season at the lands on their own. They are scared of being robbed and most importantly they are avoiding other violent crimes such as rape and murder. The traditional practice is that around this time of the year, it is the senior citizens that are in those rural corners tending to goats and take care of the fields.
Our senior citizens have now been rendered ineffective in the ecology of our economy. Remember that this country still depends so much in agriculture. This industry is still the biggest employer in the country and that has been disrupted because of security concerns.
Our elders in the rural areas doing agriculture have retired from doing jobs in South Africa and particularly in the mines. Some of them have worked in Rhodesia before independence and they were law abiding aliens.
Government must have a clear strategic plan to deal with the Zimbabwean problem. While a lot of them are trouble makers, we have to admit that a good number of them have become a critical part of our economy. Right from farm workers to accountants, Zimbabweans are doing a good job.
It is the bad potatoes that government needs to weed off and that needs to happen right now. We cannot afford to live like we are in a pariah state while we live in a republic.
*Moleofe is a security analyst