The government Department of Trade and Consumer Affairs has identified Mahalapye as the place where the rules of trade ÔÇô legal, ethical and moral ÔÇô appear to be least respected.
Mahalapye scores highest among market places where the incidence of selling and buying of ‘spoilt’ goods is most frequent. Very often, goods are sold well beyond the sell-by date, which is often not detected by buyers because of bad lighting.
The consumers are also very busy people who want to buy quickly after work or at lunch time so they do not pay much attention to the condition of the goods they purchase.
According to sources at the department, Mahalapye also boasts the highest record of traders who do business without licenses. Some traders find places to sell at ungazetted places and do business without respecting the legal requirements.
Some of the identified problems are that the small traders or ‘general dealers’ are overwhelmed by the larger chain stores that sell cooked food, vegetables and other perishables. Their stock stays on the shelves for too long and gets spoilt as many buyers opt for the one stop purchasing points at the large chain stores.
The smaller dealers also attempt to make up for their inability to attract buyers by varying their stock to include items for which they are not licensed. Cooked food may very often be found near detergents and other chemical-based products that could do harm to consumers.
Many of the small general dealers also do not make enough to engage company secretaries and tax experts who can help to keep them in line with the legal expectations and rules of trade expected at the department of trade and at the Botswana Unified Revenue Service or BURS.
The Department of Trade and Consumer Affairs is straddling the difficult problem of helping to support small business whilst also keeping good health standards.
The department also has to ensure that all trading respects the laws of the country.
Consumers who want to support local business also have to choose between the large chain stores and the citizen general dealers.