Government was helplessly groaning at the spate┬áof incidences┬áin which foreign investors conduct business in areas that are specifically reserved for locals. Maxwell Motowane, assistant minister of Trade and Industry, told Ntlo ya Dikgosi┬á that┬áthere were serious anomalies in his ministry, citing cases where foreign investors were operating general dealer stores and even selling airtime on the streets.
“I admit that there are such cases where foreign investors legally operate such businesses like the general dealers or even selling Mascom and Orange airtime units to the customers,” Motowane confessed.
“But you should know that the root cause of these glaring shortcomings emanate from our children employed who, as public servants in the ministry, issue licences to such foreigners,” he said, adding that┬ámany a times the officers “are tricked into issuing such licences mainly because by the time the current law was invoked such investors were already in possession of such licenses”.
“They fail to revoke such licences upon the renewal of the same ÔÇô a move which clearly showcases some of these individuals could be sleeping on the job or, worse still, could be up to conduct unbecoming behavior,” he further stated.
Some of the licences are genuinely obtained by the locals, he noted, only for these individuals to conduct business with the foreigners who would dominate the entire operations, eclipsing the original tenders.
“This fronting business is unacceptable and we appeal to the local business to desist from this shoddy behaviuor,” pleaded the minister.
A consultancy undertaken by Tsa Badiri consultants in 2007 revealed that┬áin terms of companies doing business with government, 17 percent of the value of tenders were awarded to Batswana owned businesses while 5 percent was awarded to joint venture companies.
However,┬áhe said 62 percent of the government tenders are awarded to citizen companies while 15 percent go to joint ventures.┬á
He said there are various statutes that reserve certain businesses, specifically for Batswana, citing among others, the industrial 2006 development Act 2006 and its 2008 regulations, which reserves small scale manufacturing with less than 25 employees and annual turnover of not more than P1, 5 million.
These manufacturing activities include manufacturing of school uniform, school furniture, burglar ┬ábars, protective clothing, cement bricks and baked earth bricks to name a few.
Another reserved area includes auctioneers, car wash, cleaning services, curio shop, fresh produce and funeral parlours, while the liquor Act dictates the bar liquor (other than bars linked to hotel establishment and restaurants) bottle stores, liquor depot and discotheque or night club.
As to the mines and minerals and the tourism sector Motowane indicated their permits are reserved for Batswana except the mining concessions. “Regulations on reservation of tourists enterprises for citizens 2010 are set aside guest houses except corporate guest houses, mobile safaris, motorboats, tourist transfers, camp and caravan sites and mekoro for Batswana,” he said.