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The roadside warriors

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The roadside warriors

Making a living along the a1 making ends meet

Approximately 15km south of Palapye, the A1 road dissects the sleepy settlement of Makoro.

On the outskirts of the village lies a Disease Control barrier beside which a number of entrepreneurs have set up makeshift stalls.

Depending on the season, they sell a variety of natural foods and snacks, including watermelons, peanuts, maize and mopane worms.

With a steady stream of daily traffic moving up and down the country’s premier highway, the street sellers enjoy a frequent flow of customers.

Travelling back to Gaborone after a short visit to the second city recently, Voice Money’s Portia Mlilo took time out of her journey home to talk to these roadside warriors and find out how their businesses are going.

Keitumetse Maphanephane, 40, from Palapye

In 2008 my daughter was very ill and it was affecting my performance at work [Car Dealership Assistant] so I decided to quit.

It was very difficult to provide for my family so I started this business of selling field produce.

At first I bought a sack of peanuts and cowpeas in Francistown.

In 2012, I managed to make profit and hire people to de-bush my field so that I can plough and sell watermelon, maize, beans, peanuts and cowpeas.

This business has helped me a lot.

The roadside warriors
Keitumetse Maphanephane

I pay for my children’s school fees and the elder one is doing her second year at tertiary.

Their father passed on in 2018 so I am now the breadwinner.

I also managed to build myself a house, which is connected with water and electricity.

On a busy day I can make more than P1, 000.

The major problem we have is that we do not have a shelter so my business is affected during the rainy season.

Lesego Ndubo, 36, from Serowe

I used to sell clothes in Gaborone.

In 2018 on my way to Serowe I stopped by Makoro to buy peanuts and I realised there was no one selling food to these business people.

I started selling them lunch and breakfast.

I also buy peanuts in bulk in Mahikeng, South Africa and supply them.

Lesego Ndubo

I make more profit on Saturday because that is when a lot of people travel and buy food from my stall.

Unlike my previous business, with this one I am sure of saving everyday and not having to wait for month end for people to pay.

I have even opened a savings account.

I use the profit I make to provide for my parents.

Just last week I went to apply for their electricity connection and paid P1, 000.

Gaboratanelwe Blacky Thapelo, 32, from Palapye

After failing my Form 3 I decided to start farming.

I plough, producing watermelon, peanuts, maize and sell to people passing here.

During winter I buy produce from South Africa and sell mophane worms.

This business has really helped me because I managed to buy myself a car which I use to transport my produce from the fields.

The roadside warriors
Gaboratanelwe Thapelo

I have also built myself a modern house complete with running water and power.

I even take care of my three nieces, buying them uniform and paying for their school fees.

On a busy day, especially towards month end, I make more than a thousand Pula.

I am currently saving to buy a van so that I can produce more and supply to other people in this business.

Ledirafetse Lokial, 72, from Palapye

I started this business in 2001 selling watermelons and peanuts.

Now the business has grown, I sell sweet reed, cowpeas, maize and mophane worms.

With the profit I make, I managed to build a house, connect water and electricity.

I have raised my seven children with the takings I make from this business and now they are working.

The roadside warriors
Ledirafetse Lokial

The major challenge we have is that there is no permanent structure to use to store our stock.

We use vacant veterinary officers’ houses but sometimes thieves break in and steal our products, which is a serious draw back.

Some company came here last year and promised to build a shelter for us but we are still waiting.

We only receive help from mobile network providers, who supply us with their big umbrellas.

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Business

De Beers cuts production as Covid-19 effects set in

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In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, diamond mining conglomerate De Beers – has revised its global production guidance.

The company, which operates Debswana Mines with Botswana government in a 50/50 joint venture, revealed this week that it has cut its global production guidance by 7 million carats to reflect demand and support long-term value.

When updating the media last Thursday afternoon, De Beers – Global Sightholder Sales Executive Vice President, Paul Rowley described the pandemic as unprecedented and nothing like what the world has ever faced.

Previously, production guidance was set between 32-34 million carats for the year, but non due to the pandemic which has affected business across sectors.

Rowley told the media that the diamond mining giant is also refocusing and repurposing marketing plans to reflect a changing situation.

Furthermore, he said the group is also working with partners in government to see how to generate revenue when international customers are unable to travel adding that creating viewing centres in other countries is another option being considered as a temporary measure.

Despite the current challenges facing the diamond industry, and all other industries, Rowley said De Beers continues to make major investments across the diamond value chain to ensure the industry’s continued success during these unprecedented times.

De Beers, according to Rowley, is making investments in production capacity expansion, rough diamond distribution efficiency and downstream consumer marketing campaigns.

Rowley told journalists that Covid-19 has impacted heavily on all the three streams, being downstream, midstream and upstream.

On the downstream side, he noted that the pandemic has had a direct impact of De Beers Jewellers retail outlets due to store closures and consumer demand impact.

In the midstream, he says the pandemic has negatively affected the rough diamond sales as the third sight was cancelled due to logistical challenges as countries went on a lockdown.

The fourth sight was only attended by local beneficiation Sightholders as international buyers were unable to travel once again.

In the upstream, Rowley said operations across the globe were impacted and the group has had to implement new requirements and procedures in the workplace to keep the workers safe.

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Business

Letlole La Rona suspends CEO

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Letlole La Rona (LLR), a property company listed on the Botswana Stock Limited (BSEL), on Tuesday moved to suspend its Chief Executive Officer, Chikuni Shenjere-Mutiswa.

His suspension, according to a notice to shareholders, follows preliminary findings arising from an investigation into issues relating to the company’s Long-term Incentive Plan.

Mutiswa who was appointed LLR CEO in June 2018, is said to have been suspended with full benefits pending the outcome of the full investigations.

Commenting on the latest developments, LLR Board Chairperson, Boitumelo Mogopa noted good governance remains sacrosanct to the board and all staff of the company.

“The preliminary findings of the possible misconduct arising from the investigations relate to the circumstances around the company’s Long-term Incentive Plan during or around March this year and possible acts or omissions by an individual in a unique position of power,” said Mogopa.

Mogopa said this by no means reflects the integrity of the board, financial performance and company portfolio.

“For us, it remains business as usual as the due process takes its course,” said Mogopa.

Meanwhile, the board has in the interim appointed Botshelo Mokotedi to hold the fort on an acting basis while investigations continue.

Mokotedi is seconded from Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) – a major shareholder in LLR – where he is the Head of Risk.

He is described as a forward-thinking, highly motivated and results-oriented individual with more than a decade experience in the financial services sector across a variety of senior roles, including Business Development, Credit Analysis as well as Portfolio and Risk Management.

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