The Competition and Consumer Authority (CCA) has closed nine offices across the country as it struggles with difficult budgetary conditions, BusinessWeek has learnt.
They all closed beginning of the year. CCA director of communications and stakeholder relations, Gideon Nkala said harsh financial realities had compelled the organisation to streamline its countrywide footprint “This was a very difficult decision which was forced on us by budgetary constraints,” he said. “The CCA Board and indeed government, through the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, is committed to service delivery, particularly consumer welfare.” However, Nkala said everything possible has been done to ensure that the disruption to services is minimised, highlighting that the CCA has strengthened the two remaining Gaborone and Francistown offices to deal with consumer and competition issues by dividing the country into zones.
The Gaborone office will generally cater for the south of the country, while Francistown will take care of northern Botswana. He added that the closure of the offices did not result in any job losses as all officers were absorbed in the public service and others recruited or retained by the CCA. “The CCA has provided an open environment where employees can learn from each other through deliberate programmes. “We have no doubt that some of the skills have been invested in the CCA.
Besides, these individuals are not lost to wider consumer welfare ecosystem and there is an opportunity to interact and enrich consumer welfare programmes even outside formal CCA employment,” he said. Consumers and businesses were informed through media platforms about the offices’ closure but most importantly stakeholders were directed to digital platforms and other means to continue to access CCA services without disruption. “We are comforted that over the Christmas break, consumers have used these platforms to register new complaints and to follow-up on existing matters, including people from affected villages and towns such as Hukuntsi, Serowe, Kasane, Maun, Selebi-Phikwe and Gantsi,” he said. Nkala said the competition and consumer watchdog has embarked on continuous engagement with stakeholders using a variety of media.