Tension brewing between Dukwi villagers, refugees

DUKWI: Tension is brewing between Dukwi residents and refugees based at the camp on the outskirts of the village as the former accuse the latter of taking businesses solely reserved for Batswana.

This came to light when the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi addressed a Kgotla meeting at the village on Monday.

It was apparent during the meeting that there is bad blood between Batswana and their refugee neighbours as speaker after speaker pleaded with the minister to do all he could to see that refugees did not compete ‘unfairly’ with Batswana.

Thato Maswabi, a Village Development Committee (VDC) member was the first to lament their plight.

“Refugees are taking over all our job opportunities and businesses, making our lives miserable. Our businesses are closing because refugees are selling their products at very low prices.

“We wonder where they buy their products because their prices are very low,” said Maswabi.

He wondered who was sponsoring the refugees to sell goods at low prices, suggesting that, “they may be sponsored by terrorist organisations to sell goods here and then siphon profits back to their home countries to sponsor terrorist activities”.

An elderly woman Mmapula Maja echoed Maswabi’s sentiments and said that their businesses were no longer profitable.

“Refugees are taking us out of business because their prices are very low. We wonder where they buy their products from where we don’t buy them.

“If they were buying from the same sources like us, our prices could be almost the same. We want the minister (Kgathi) to address this problem once and for all because we are going to end up with nothing to make a living,” charged Maja.

It was clear during the meeting that locals were worried about refugee-owned enterprises that they claimed have mushroomed all over their village. The director of ceremonies intervened and told the residents to tell the minister other pertinent problems that are affecting them in the village.

However, in response, Kgathi said he had heard that some Batswana were in the habit of fronting their businesses to refugees.

He said that it was going to be difficult for government to arrest the situation if Batswana were working in cahoots with refugees to cheat the system.

“There is a reservation policy that clearly states the type of businesses that are reserved for Batswana, for example kiosks, bars and shops. Foreigners, including refugees are not allowed to engage in these types of businesses.

“They are not allowed to engage in any type of business without permission,” said Kgathi, warning locals to also stop renting their homes to refugees to use as business premises because it was illegal to do so.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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