Of Batswana, laziness and cattlepost mentality

16th August 2017


By Matshediso Fologang -

Some prominent Zimbabwe business man once came here and said we have ‘cattle post’ mentality in doing business. Many Batswana and I didn’t take kindly to the remark. We were all very angry and bayed for his head. Again on a number of occasions we have heard from potential investors (both local and foreign) of the laziness of our people.

Once again I was angry at this statement. However, lately I wonder if many of us still strongly feel insulted by these sentiments. Whilst we have as a country made strides in the world of economic and social development we still have to refine our ways of doing business. The past two or so weeks I have observed two incidences that made me rethink my position regarding our way of doing things. We still do things like we still live in the pre-industrial revolution era. Maybe at the point in time there was no guiding work ethics.

People could do whatever they wanted and it meant nothing to the next person. There might have been nothing like a customer. I have heard of customer being the king and I cannot safely attest to this saying after what I witnessed in the past two weeks. In this era of global competitiveness, we have to compete for potential investors from across the globe. It’s a dog eat dog world.

We have to provide world class service in order for us to be considered as an investment destination. We can no longer afford a situation where we care less about people we are expected to serve. The service we provide must be world class. Of the two incidences I experienced recently I choose to relate the experience I had with a government department.

About three months ago two organisations (Local and American) I am involved with approached the relevant government department on the requirements for the residence and work permits for a foreign professional who had to come to Botswana for a two-year period. The Department and the Botswana Embassy in Washington DC advised that we access information from the Government portal. Information there did not tally with the one provided across the counter in Gaborone. There were a lot of discrepancies between the two.

It was embarrassing to me as a Motswana who had previously boldly told the guest that we provide quality service here. As if this was not enough, the worst was experienced here. I am aware of the sensitivity of handling money. The Government Revenue Collectors cannot be changed willy-nilly. Each department has assigned collectors. This is a necessary internal control.

The cash Government collects in any one day is a lot to be left in the unsecured office. Government revenue collection points there open between 07.30hrs and 10.30hrs. This might be a necessary financial measure. It is however not conducive to good modern business. Why do we continue to collect cash where our banking system has advanced to allow modern financial transacting? Can’t we have bank facilities that allow clients to transact electronically? We can no longer afford to do business like we did in1966. We are a high middle income country. We must move with times and shed off the cattle post mentality.

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