Thursday, May 23, 2024

“Indigenous entrepreneurs should be protected”

I am aware that the topic I am raising is a subject that may be uncomfortable to some sectiosn of our society. BUT, we need to talk about it.

Otherwise many indigenous citizens will continue to be poor and not enjoy the fruits of our economy that is well looked after, thanks to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party.

My expectation of foreign investors is businessmen who are enterprising and are not dependent on government contracts.

However the latest trend whereby so called foreign investors are petulant and behave as though they are entitled to government contracts is disgusting to say the least.

By chance I recently attended court proceedings. I was left shattered even though I’m not involved.

I was compelled to pay attention to this case. Only to find that, the battle, though one sided, is between what I would term a 50% citizen and an indigenous citizen. A well-known land and property magnate, Mr Mehdi Jamali had gone to the High Court of Botswana to stop negotiations between the ministry of Finance and Development Planning and Zambezi Towers owned by an indigenous citizen Mr Ishmael Nshakazhogwe.

Negotiations that could have led to the ministry of Finance possibly leasing Zambezi Towers at the new CBD, that is, depending on the outcome of the negotiations.

I couldn’t understand…! 

To add salt to injury, there’s another matter before the courts between a foreign owned catering company called Moghul Catering Services and a 100% indigenous citizen owned catering company called Boitekanelo Catering Services….! It would again appear that Moghul Catering Services, by not allowing them the monopoly of continuity at the university, believes there may have been a shortcut, maybe deliberate, to empower the other party. That being the case, one would wonder how Moghul Catering Services managed to have monopolised the catering services at the University of Botswana for over or about 25 years!

Following the matter deeper, to me it would appear that certain people either believe that they are more equal or holding some entitlement towards the government and generally industry business support.

I am made to believe that Mr Mehdi Jamali has almost 70% in terms of government office and residential space. Whilst the other citizen, Mr Ishmael Nshakazhogwe, mainly responding to the call of economic diversification has got one and only building that has emerged and he would also  have loved to lease the same to  Government all equal. 

African history is replete with numerous fiascos surrounding land imbalances, monopolistic tendencies and aftermath bitterness against unlevel play ground.

It would again appear that the same magnate feels that by not allowing him the monopoly of continuity, there may have been a shortcut, maybe deliberate, to empower the other party. That being the case, one would wonder how he himself managed to have flooded his properties to the government and also how he acquired land especially since he was not born here.

May I remind civil servants who are deeply immersed in white collar crime while in the process empowering non citizens and 50% citizens that Botswana without Batswana is the dream of the local predatory, supremacist foreign minority.

A recent report came to challenge the well spread idea that the West is pouring money into Africa through aid without receiving much in return. In contrast the report proved that Africa has lost up to $1.4 trillion in illicit financial flows to the West from 1980 to 2009. This amount is 233 times the $60 billion foreign “aid” Africa supposedly receives every year from the West. Fact!

White-collar crimes can collapse the economy of our country. We must all as Batswana stand to condemn in the strongest possible terms any act of crime against any government department or parastatal aimed at discrediting the BDP government initiatives that are propagated to help Batswana who have entrusted the BDP with the responsibility of running the affairs of this country.

The economic impact of white-collar crime is far costlier than ordinary crime. White-collar crime can endanger employees through unsafe working conditions, injure consumers because of dangerous products and cause pollution problems for a community. White-collar crimes are particularly harmful to society because they are committed by technocrats who are expected to set a moral example and behave responsibly.

Being a former government law enforcement officer myself, I am fully alive to the fact that white collar crimes are hard to solve as the offenders are very much organised and know exactly what needs to be concealed and effectively cover their tracks. Most white-collar criminals are very clever in evading detection by the law. They are also good at avoiding skepticism from their victims. They build walls of false integrity around themselves to increase the comfort level of their victims…..hence the need for an investigation to be carried out when they are not aware. Since once they become aware they destroy evidence and cover all their tracks making it very difficult for them to be charged and be prosecuted before the courts. It is sadly true that newspaper whistle blowing only exposes suspects to public prosecution and street judgements. It is not helpful.

I call on all patriotic citizens to join me in playing our part in fighting corruption; white-collar crimes and blue-collar crimes.

The efficient should be acknowledged and the corrupt punished, in spite of how highly placed such individuals sit in society. There is evidence of theft of public resources shown by the kind of private grandiose projects that some public officials are able to turn around that clearly don’t match their incomes.

Corruption, corruption, corruption. This is the cancer that we should continuously and tirelessly fight.

I ONLY have one Botswana.


*MacDonald Peloetletse is a member of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party. He writes in his personal capacity.


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