September 12, 2009

A Familiar Problem. I blame Bush & Cheney.

THE VOICE, a weekly newspaper published in Botswana, reports on the problem of foreigners doing business and skewering the local economy.
Foreign competition bites on local vendors
By Dubani-wa-Dubani

Vegetable vendors in Mochudi say they are on the brink of ruin unless authorities do something about took save them from bigger businesses and foreign investors.

Speaking to Your Money last week Baleseng Anna Mataboge who started selling vegetables on the streets in 2003 after she was forced out of clothing business by tough competition from Chinese owned shops said.

“When the Chinese came they brought with them products that are very cheap and this killed small time clothing producers. I know others in my former trade who have had to take up others venture because their businesses like mine could not compete with the cheap Chinese clothes.”


“I went into the vegetable business and again I have to compete with big businesses which are mostly run by Indians. Looks like I may have to start something else soon. The way things are going most of us will be out of business soon unless the government does something to protect us. Do not get me wrong I have nothing against Chinese and Indians. I am not a racist. I just think the government must make laws that protect citizens from unfair competition,” the 45-year old continued.

When quizzed on what she thought the solution could be she said: “Government should have quota for big business so that the small person can have a fair share of the market too. We need to pay school fees for our kids and also have daily financial needs like anybody else. When we have laws that will protect the small business person then we will prove wrong those who say Batswana are good for nothing.”

For Maggie Gouwe who says she has, together with fellow vendors, have had to throw away spoilt veggies because of stifling competition from bigger establishment sees no reason why people should come from other countries just to sell vegetables.

“I have nothing against anybody. I have never had apartheid in my head, but I think our government should protect us as citizens. I am for foreign investors as long as it does not ruin the livelihood of citizens. To me coming to Botswana just to sell vegetables is not foreign investment because it robs a lot of citizens of a way of making a living. We need laws to protect us from such and the government must make such laws to protect the likes of us from ruin”, the 53-year-old told Your Money.

“We have mouths to feed and bills to pay like everybody else. Now that we have to pay school fees things are hard. Unless the government makes laws that will give small business people a fair deal a lot of people face ruin”, she said.

A snap survey amongst the vegetable sellers in Mochudi revealed that most are worried about going out of business soon and feel that authorities should do more to help their kind survive the combined impact of the global economic slowdown and being swallowed by bigger establishments.


Rhod said...

The Wal-Martization of Botswana.

This is where conservatives like me are sometimes incoherent.

Free and robust trade, and unrestricted markets are, in the long run, correct, and no version of Smoot-Hawley ever works.

Still, it makes you wonder if Lou Dobbs isn't right.

Anonymous said...

It's disturbing, Rhod. It's the horror of putting unarmed people into a knife fight. You can understand their disillusionment.