By Risco Lumamezi
A group of devil’s claw traders in Katima Mulilo have expressed concerns and accused the exporting agent for secretly buying from friends and family members, instead of following the approved list.
This comes after traders noticed that the buyer was buying from his sisters in-law, friends and relatives without following the list.
Ms. Inonge Mabakeng, Vice Chairperson of the Committee of Devil’s Claw Traders in Zambezi Region and a trader told Caprivi Vision that Mr. Fred Bohitile the Buyer stationed in Katima Mulilo has been buying from his in-laws and friends without considering everyone on the list.
“There’s an approved list which he supposed to follow but he is not following it accordingly, he don’t want to follow the list”
She said that each trader is allowed to sell about a minimum of 4 bags to 40 bags per 50 kilograms to accommodate more people.
In Namibia, they are four exporters of the devil’s claw who are mandated to buy from the traders, whilst devil’s claw harvesters sell to traders.
In Zambezi region sales of the devil’s claw is monopolized and exporter determine the price and buys devil’s claw at random at the price of N$31.00 per kg.
“Some of the sales have been privately made during night, therefore we see to it that there’s corruption” she said.
Vice Chairperson has vowed that traders are forced to pay the buyer some kick backs which they see to it that is a loss and would not allow that to happen anymore.
She lamented the fact that “we want a fair buyer who should buy from everyone, even him he can buy from us but he must be fair enough”
Ms. Mabakeng who is number 16 on the list further added that some of the people including a pregnant woman have been sleeping outside the premises waiting to sell their products but all to no avail.
Another trader an old woman from Sachinga Village Ms. Eunice who is number 36 on the list of 113 complained that“I arrived here yesterday I slept here and I spent all day long here, I don’t know how I will transport my 10 bags back home, yesterday they bought devil’s claw from others, I don’t know how I will go back and come back with my bags since I don’t know whether they will buy my devil’s claws tomorrow.”
She said that things has changed unlike in the past “we only know him as the only person who buys devil’s claws in the region, we ask for help”
Mr. Adams Munwela ,an additional member of the Zambezi Devil’s Claw Committee who is having 43 bags of the devil’s claw and on the list is number 27, also expressed his sentiments accusing the buyer for corruption and favouritism that “the Agent who is in Zambezi is not fair because he is not following the approved list so that people when they go back home with their parcels should know for sure that the next morning will be served.”
“Am very much worried and concerned with the old lady who came from the village who spent her night without eating anything ,and now its cold this is not good , you know that this is the year of drought our kids are hungry they don’t have anything to eat.”
He further warned that since the business is legal and well known to people should not trade secretly during night. He emphasized that the committee should be trusted with its mandate.
However, contacted for comment to hear how true the allegations were, Mr. Fred Bohitile, an Agent of EcoSo Dynamics cc based in Okakarara refuted allegations levelled to him saying people in the region are just against him with unknown reasons which he doesn’t know.
He added they are other buyers around the region but people are just against him with reasons that are only known to them.
Asked to clarify on why he was buying from his in-laws, friends and relatives which they have described as corruption“People who gave that information are people who call themselves as committee members who are bringing problems and for such I cannot answer on that by now because committee members are not buying and I also want to know whose people are on the roll on that information because they cannot be all there must be others who are behind that”
He however pointed out that people who have been sleeping at the warehouse were not called by anybody but they came on their own as according to his understanding he has to call people to come once is ready.
“Am having a list and I have to buy according to my list, but they are other people calling themselves committee members who are government workers, those are not even part of this business, this is for the poor people who are not working, not teachers who have their work to come and do my work at my warehouse, that is not fair you understand, I did not call anyone.”
Mr. Bohitile lashed out on that “We started long time ago and we cannot calculate how many people we have saved so far. The committee is something which is registered; People who are calling themselves to be in the committee are those who are working in the government as teachers, nurses and so on while it must be for people who are not working”.
“People who are buying during night hour are people who must be convincing in my business, we are not buying at night, and we buy from morning to 5 o’clock we close”.
He advised traders to sell their produce to other buyers around the region, “We have a list of people which we call to come and sell. On my list I have 70 people and we are not here to come and serve everybody, we serve according to money we have.”
When asked to shed some lights on how many tones they were ready to buy, “I cannot tell you how many tones we will buy that I will call you later. If there’s anybody who is not happy with my service we are many buyers even shops like shoprite, pick n’pay and others can also buy”
Efforts to hear from the exporter the owner and Managing Director of EcoSo Dynamics cc, Mr.Gero Diekmann proved futile as his phone was not reachable.