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Cross-border trade between Botswana and Zambia booming

Keletso Thobega

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PREPARING TO HIT LUSAKA: Bus rank scenes of crossborder traders

It is a Wednesday evening and a large group of women, mostly Zambian, idle at the Francistown bus rank. One bus with a huge trailer is parked nearby and a middle aged man with a paper writes down names and the items each person has.

There are more than 50 people waiting to board the bus, headed to Lusaka. There are all kinds of electronics from kettles, microwaves, flat screen LCD televisions, fridges to cooler boxes, water tanks. After that comes the mission of getting everything on board. The three back seats are filled with televisions. The fridges are packed in the trailer.

The rest of the items are in the bus storage. It is packed. The bus driver expresses disgruntlement with the way everything is filled up. There is not enough space for the boarders, so they pack like sardines, some shoved atop the television sets and others stuffed up in front.

The bus eventually leaves around 1am. It will arrive in Lusaka at around 7pm in the evening, considering the nearly four-hour stop at the busy Kazungula border. The bus conductor and other assistants refuse to help them. One woman exclaims: “We are strong women, we will help ourselves,” as she carries a huge televiion set.

Some of the women will travel further to the North of Zambia or to neighbouring towns and villages. Only when this reporter tells them she is travelling to Zambia to buy stock, do they evntually down their guard. Familiarity always brings people closer. Jennifer Jobe, explains that most of the women are breadwinners or single parents.

Out of the 52, there are only two men. She explains that they purchase the electronic goods here at a cheaper rate because sometimes demand is unmet back home. “We get good deals here, put in a mark up and can make a profit.

The long trips are worth it. Being on the road for nearly 26 hours does not affect us much because it is our bread and butter, and a great way to supplement our income,” she says. On the other side, scores of Batswana travel to Zambia to buy stock, mostly shoes and clothes, to re-sell here.

At the Lusaka bus rank and shops in the vicinity fashion threads from Chinese factories are being sold. One man sells a Nike pair of sneakers for 50 kwacha, which is about P60! These are fakes of course, but who cares? The off shoot market is big when you consider how many locals are making a killing.

Most people cannot afford the real deal and so they buy and wear fake labels. It is a huge thriving market. The informal sector runs economies. But they are faced with their own set of challenges. Governments vest interests in the growth of blue chip entities and neglect to develop policies that would favour Black indigenous entrepreneurs.

In more developed countries, the informal sector can be a source of employment opportunities particularly when the support for the growth of informal businesses and governments assist in their development.

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Botswana urged to sign Maputo

Keletso Thobega

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Botswana is one of the five countries that have been advised to sign the Maputo Protocol. Botswana, Egypt and Morocco are the only three African countries that have not signed this Protocol. Adopted in 2003 and implemented in 2005, the Maputo Protocol is a ground-breaking protocol on women and girls’ human rights, both within Africa and beyond.

It compensates for the shortcomings in the 1981 African Charter with respect to women and girls rights. It includes 32 articles on women and girls’ rights, and also provides an explicit definition of discrimination against women, which was missing in the African Charter.

The Maputo Protocol defines discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction or any differential treatment based on sex and whose objectives or effects compromise or destroy the recognition, enjoyment or the exercise by women, regardless of their marital status, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all spheres of life.”

The State of African Women Report 2018 stipulates that more still needs to be done to implement laws and commitments to the rights of women and girls in African societies. While there has been significant improvements in addressing issues affecting women and girls over the years, the report notes that commitment to girls and women’s right is still lagging behind.

The report highlights that:
“Three in five countries in Africa do not criminalise rape, young women aged 15-24 in sub-Saharan Africa are 2.5 times more likely to be infected by HIV in comparison to men in the same age group, more than half of maternal deaths worldwide occur in sub-Saharan Africa and that gender based violence and sexual assault still affects women more”.

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Mama Rampa, the Good

Yvonne Mooka

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NOBLE CALLING: Martha Rampa on a mission to rescue the underprivileged

Martha Rampa, project manager at AAP Home Based Care and Family Life Programme quit her nursing job over ten years ago to attend to the needs of orphans, poor and sick.

AAP has 3119 orphans and underprivileged children from South East, Kweneng, Kanye and Kgalagadi districts. The Non-Governmental Organisation aims at supporting, providing food, clothing, shelter, education, nursing care, counselling and supporting destitute, terminally ill patients and orphaned children.

According to Rampa, the thrust of the practice is the link between the patient and the clinical management services. “It is a person-centred approach, which ensures that patients receive the appropriate service in a supportive and effective manner. Destitute and orphaned children have over time become integral part AAP programmes,” she said.

Last Saturday, she organised an appreciation dinner for donors. It was a colourful event where beneficiaries had also come to testify about the way their lives have changed since they were enrolled.

One of the young girls said that she had given up on life as she was from a poor family. The under 15 girl said that through AAP, she managed to continue and is exceling at school. A young man under 20 said that he was moved from a settlement where he could not focus on his studies because of his family background.

AAP put him through a different school that has boarding. “At AAP, we call her mama Rampa. She is our mother and we are so blessed to have her,” he said at the event in Gaborone.

The primary aim of AAP is to rehabilitate and develop children in difficult circumstances such as orphaned children, street children, economically poor and socially oppressed children and work for the eradication of child labour and child exploitation.

Rampa said the vision is to help and give many more children a real and loving home which helps them to live and grow up to be free, healthy and independent individuals; to influence behavioural change of individuals, especially those in the realm of sex and family life and to introduce a change that will bring a transformation, which alleviates the impact of HIV/Aids infection and stops the spread of the virus within the community.

She said there were local companies that had committed themselves to giving the children food after every two weeks. Through her gift of counselling, she also assists with providing emotional and spiritual support including counselling to orphans, destitute, terminally ill and the poor. She also prays for them.

She said that since the project started in 2000, the focus was on the care of HIV/AIDS patients. Volunteers were trained to take care of terminally ill patients in their homes. “Due to lack of funds in supporting the volunteers, for three years only 45 were full time serving in the project with great results.

“A networking relationship was established with Ministry of Health/AIDS department and Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs as well as other NGOs like BOCAIP, Clinics around Gaborone and Church leaders. We effectively communicated our mission to our leaders like Counsellors, Members of Parliament and diKgosi in the areas where we are operating,” she said.

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