Thursday, July 18, 2024

Moswaane right about tax-evading Chinese businessmen being ‘untouchable’

Practically all harbinger Chinese traders at the turn of the century sold herbal balm in red tin boxes. They hawked this product in the streets with the one very important Setswana word that they had learnt, which word described how the balm was to be applied – “tshasa!” Thus it was that the word came to be used as a playful exonym for the Chinese.

Decades later, both those traders and that name have disappeared and been replaced by deep-pocketed businesspeople who drive prohibitively expensive SUVs. On an almost daily basis, these tycoons have to field calls from Batswana who want to sell their crop fields. Once when the writer interviewed a Chinese businessman and leader in the local Chinese community, at least three such and separate calls came in over an hour. When these Chinese celebrate the beginning of their year at the Gaborone International Convention Centre, the parking lot resembles the Naledi Motors showroom. In the 2019 general election, there was reporting to the effect that the Chinese had replaced De Beers as the main donors of the Botswana Democratic Party.

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