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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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GABS CITY REPAIRED

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Located in the heart of Gaborone, Bontleng Primary School was one of the areas that were devastated by Cyclone Dineo some two years ago.

Among damages from the cyclone the school boundary walls were destroyed and some trees fell onto classrooms destroying the roofing, recalled Area Councilor, Olebogeng Kemelo. Today the school is among several developmental projects carried out by the Gaborone City Council (GCC). Maintenance work is going on, a new classroom block is coming up and roofs of classrooms that were destroyed by the storm winds have been replaced and reinforced with steel pipes.

The school will also receive rehabilitation of water reticulation and drainage along with other primary schools in the city in the financial year 2019/20. This is just one of the many developmental projects by the city council that are currently taking place around the city. Mayor of Gaborone, Kagiso Thutlwe said on Tuesday during the Council Leadership and Management tour of projects that they have realised that often times councilors discuss projects only in Council Chambers and never get an appreciation of the work on the ground.

According to Thutlwe the projects have been funded from the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP), Roads Levy and Constituency funding, as well as additional funds from China through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The council received around P60 million from the Roads Levy, P30 million from ESP, and P50 million for the five constituencies within the city, while the donation from China through the ministry was about P15 million. “We are sampling a few projects from each of the funding mechanisms, some projects are funded from ESP, some from Roads Levy and some from Constituency funding,” Thutlwe said, adding, “Generally all projects are going on well.

“We had hiccups at the beginning of some projects like paving of roads that did not go well because of issues of capacity, but we are now satisfied with progress and contractors and there is close monitoring.” Some of the visited sites include the Shashe road in Gaborone South that was done under the Roads Levy for around P5 million, maintenance of primary schools around P600 000, storm water drainage around P600 000, walkway in Mosekangwetsi and Khuduga in Bonnington south around P600 000, ESP project in Khuduga primary school for around P20 million. Other projects include; recreational park development, storm water drainage in Old Naledi, construction of Kgomokasitwa Road, street lights and flood lights, maintenance of SHHA offices, Block 10 underdeveloped plots, Bosele primary school, Block 3 recycling centre and development of clinic in Maruapula.

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WHO POISONED THE CHILDREN?

Yvonne Mooka

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They were staying in Bontleng, Gaborone with their mother, father and aunt. According to their aunt Agnes Selato, their father Onalethata Moreomongwe had on February 27, cooked them rice soup and beef and left some in the pot, which he put in the fridge.

She says that the following day, the father told the children to eat the leftovers alone and that she – the aunt, should eat bread. “The girl wanted to refuse to eat but since she was coming from school and hungry, she ended up eating. I also ate with them,” she says. She however says that around 11pm, she and the children fell sick. “They had diarrhoea and were vomiting. Their body temperatures were high. I also experienced dizziness and started throwing up,” she says.

Selato says that the father decided to go out with his friend around midnight, ignoring that they were not feeling well. All the while, the children’s mother Kamogelo Selato was on a night shift at Engen filling station in Nkoyaphiri. It was when Kamogelo arrived around 7am that the children were taken to Bontleng clinic. The mother says that she went and looked for their father who came and drove them to the clinic.

The aunt however says she was feeling better. “Upon arrival at the clinic, we were quickly taken to Princess Marina Hospital where nurses sent me back home to call their father for questioning.
“When we got to the hospital, the boy had already been moved from Emergency to Intensive Care Unit. The girl was admitted at the Children’s ward and we were told she was feeling better,” says the aunt. As they were still waiting at the hospital around 8pm, they were informed that both children had passed on. She and Moreomongwe have since been interrogated by CID officers. “They took uncooked rice and cooked rice for testing.

They also took the pot that was used. But again after post-mortem that was conducted last Wednesday, the police asked them about a spray used in the house that could have affected the children’s respiratory systems. “I told them that the father had confided in his friend that he had brought spray from his workplace to kill cockroaches in the house. He actually sprayed the house at one point,” she says. Selato brought clothes in a plastic bag belonging to Kamogelo that had a strong smell of a chemical and told The Midweek Sun team that it was the one used by Moreomongwe.

Family furious
The children’s mother says that she suspects foul-play as the children’s father did not bring money he claimed from their insurance. “His behaviour is suspicious. He took their death certificates for insurance claims but did not bring not even 1 Pula. “He went and bought himself a smartphone and created a fake Facebook account to tarnish my name that I killed my children,” she says, talking about circulating Facebook post that a mother has poisoned her children with rice. She says that even though the boyfriend’s family brought four goats and a sheep, the issue of insurance money that never helped at the funeral had angered her. “I buried my children alone, from my own pocket. But again I’m not surprised because I hear he was seen on Sunday at the graveyards with bottles at my children’s tombs,” said the 30 year old.

Kamogelo laments her relationship of seven years, saying her boyfriend had turned her into a punching bag. “He lives with me in my house but he abuses me. The whole furniture is mine and I pay rent, but he is abusive.

‘I’m done with him,” she says, adding that he had alienated her son as he found her already with him. She says that police should arrest him for killing her children. Kamogelo’s mother Matshidiso Selato also made a plea to the police to arrest Moreomongwe pending investigations. She says that they should kick him out of Kamogelo’s house and bring the keys to Molapowabojang. “In 2016, he nearly killed her. He abuses her.

Now that he has killed my grandchildren, he is going to kill my daughter,” she says angrily, adding that police should torture Moreomongwe so that he can tell the truth. Great grandmother Kebabope Mothibi blames the police for not arresting Moreomongwe, stating that he was going to kill Kamogelo. Great grandfather Kehetamang Modibedi says that he does not want Moreomongwe. “What had joined him with my granddaughter is gone and he is behind it. Now, they share nothing. I don’t want to see him,” he says.

Boyfriend speaks
In response, Moreomongwe, 27, blames the children’s aunt for their death. He denies having cooked rice for them and says it was actually Agnes who did. “I only took two spoons. Sejeso seo se ne se lebagane nna. Ga ampatle,” he says, implying that the poison had targeted specifically him. He explains that the sister did not want to leave them in peace as a couple, and that she had overstayed two months they had given her in their rented room.

He adds that he was also put on a drip at Bontleng clinic after the incident. Moreomongwe reveals that his girlfriend’s mother does not like him and had long wanted them to part ways. “She is a big problem in our relationship, but her daughter and I are fine. Even if she listens to them and dumps me, it’s alright, but I will always love her. I leave them with Isaiah 66 and they’ll know because we’re both ZCC members,” he says. Urban Police station commander Superintendent Masego Majaha says they are still waiting for the doctor’s report. She said they had taken the food to the lab for examination.

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