As the Botswana government continues to implement protectionist policies in some industries, citizens are monitoring the benefits. Perhaps this explains why now citizen gas sellers are appealing to government to restrict foreign nationals from selling gas products.
Sunday Standard has been informed that the call comes after the realisation that some foreigners have monopolised the cooking gas industry and therefore making it difficult for them to thrive.
Thabang Segaise of Ample Gas stated that this has resulted in some big businesses shunning them from supplying their enterprises in favour of foreign nationals.
He highlighted that government should restrict foreign nationals from the business arguing that it does not need any special kills as locals can use it to create further employment for others.
“We go through a lot even when refill our gas cylinders to sell to homesteads or in big businesses where they use gas for different purposes be it cooking or medical,”
“Government should look at this matter and ensure that no licenses are given to foreign nationals just it has done in some businesses like hair salon and others in which licenses are strictly reserved for locals,” he said.
Segaise also shared that during Covid-19 lockdowns they were elbowed from refiling their gas cylinders in order to service their clients as priority was given to their fellow foreign nationals.
For his part Keamogetse Mogorosi of Kemza gas products also expressed worry at the manner in which foreign nationals have been given many licenses to operate adding that it is about time government walks the talk to ensure that economy is driven back into their hands.
Mogorosi stated that efforts are being made to challenge government to suspend issuance of licenses to foreign nationals.
“This gas business is dominated by one foreigners and government has even allowed them to supply public facilities with cooking gas and this leaving us with nothing, so I suggest that government should revise the issuance of licenses with immediate effect before it gets worse,”
“During state of emergency I had to cut my number of employees because business was low and it was difficult for me to source gas due to favoritism among foreign nationals,” added Mogorosi.
He further advised government to take leaf from some developing countries which continue to prioritize their own by ensuring that the business environment remains conducive.
“We remain hopeful that changes will be made to give citizens enough support in this regard because we have suffered for far too long without due assistance from government,” said Mogorosi.
On the other hand, Gorata Mookodi of Insight gas stated that even though she just reopen doors recently after closing shop at the start of Covid-19 in 2020, there is need to boost locally owned businesses.
“Some businesses have benefited from government incentives during Covid-19 but my business was never given anything and I had to close down and I lost about 10 employees because I had nothing to share with them,”
“Covid-19 offered government a perfect opportunity to set the record straight by giving locally owned a preference but that did not materialize,” added Mookodi.
She said government can use the sector to empower more locals.
In 2020 government made strides in implementing its Citizen Economic Empowerment act by reserving among other things the Purification and bottling of water, meat processing, packaging, fresh produce, funeral parlours and importation of pre-owned cars for citizens.
Government published the amended Industrial Development and Trade Acts, paving way for some sectors of the economy to be in the hands of citizens only.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s ruling party came under fire from the main opposition, with ruling party accused of failing to include citizens in the mainstream economy after five decades of uninterrupted. Masisi conceded that the country’s economy was not in the hands of indigenous citizens and promised sweeping changes if his party is returned to power. The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) went on to win the October elections, and soon the citizens started demanding what was promised.
Other manufacturing enterprises reserved for citizens include bricks, steel fabrication for burglar bars, windows, gates, packaging, protective clothing, roof trusses, school furniture and uniforms, printing, signage, traditional crafts and leather products.