Councilors in Francistown have called on the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dorcas Makgatho Malesu, to increase the grace period on the traditional beer sellers, saying that there is need for ample time to further consult on where the sellers will be relocated to after being blocked from operating their businesses in their homes.
The traditional beer regulations, which were to be enforced on the 1st of January this year, were changed at the last minute after government announced that it would give traditional beer sellers a grace period of six months in order to assist them to relocate businesses out of their residences into commercially designated areas.
During a consultative meeting, which was held by the minister on Friday, councilors decried lack of land in Francistown as one of the main challenges against the relocation of the sellers.
“We would like the Minister to give the traditional beer sellers more time so that we can also discuss the issue of land. Land in Francistown is very limited and we need more time to discuss on where to relocate the sellers and the six months grace period is very short,” said Monarch councilor, Raoboy Mpuang.
He added that he did not have any qualms with the relocation, provided the sellers are given land or plots to operate their businesses.
Robert Mosweu, councilor for Boikhutso Ward, also took issue with the regulations, saying that should government enforce them within the six months grace period, traditional beer sellers are going to shut down their businesses and this will drag them into adverse poverty.
“There is no guarantee that land or plots will be available within the six months period and this will negate heavily on the poor traditional beer sellers,” he said.
Mosweu further expressed fear on the regulations, saying that they are going to impact heavily on the economy as the producer of Chibuku, Botswana Breweries Limited, is going to retrench employees due to a drop of sales as most of the sellers will close business.
Most of the councilors agreed that the government should take another look at the grace period as it is too short for them to consult and find an appropriate allocation for the sellers.
In her response, Malesu acknowledged the queries by the councilors on the issue of land. However, she said that the sellers could also exploit other avenues and opportunities provided by government to make a living rather than selling traditional beer. She encouraged the traditional beer sellers to venture into other small businesses to make a living.