With three years left to the year 2022, Francistown City Council (FCC) is struggling to meet targets setout in an ambitious vision launchd in 2013.
Dubbed Vision 2022, and the brain child of former mayor, James Kgalajwe, the ambitious plan was aimed to transform the second city into an economic hub and investment destination of choice. The main impediment has been shortage of funds. A company was set up to spearhead the implementation of the Vision but even up to now the city council has struggled to appoint a Chief Executive Officer due to insufficient funds. The vision was expected to create the much needed job opportunities to the residents of Francistown, which has been hardhit by high unemployment rates especially among the youth. The authorities were optimistic that the vision will materialize due to the city’s location as it is the gateway to neighbouring countries such as Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The municipality is also being frustrated by the ministry of Local Government’s refusal to approve a plan to build a mall in a 43 hectors land which is popularly known as the old golf course, adjacent to Nyangabgwe referral hospital. Now the plot which is a white elephant has turned into a criminal hub for thugs. Part of the vision was cantered on the transformation of the land into a Central Business District (CBD) through Public Private Partnership (PPP). The move was to add value to the economy of the second city. Now the vision is bleak as government has purged its progress. Sources have hinted that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development ordered the suspension of the project with no reason.
Some FCC councillors who preferred anonymity said that it is disappointing to note that government does not have the interest of Francistown at heart. They are of the view that government is deliberately sabotaging Francistown and starving it from developments.
“The councillors including the mayor did all they can do to make sure that this project became a success. An expression of interest and tendering had already been done. Surveys and demarcation of plots had been done. The ministry interfered and everyone is now in the dark as to why we were ordered to stop the project. This is heart-breaking,” one councillor said.
Addressing a full council meeting this week, Mayor Sylvia Muzila said, “The old golf course is one of the plots that I had hoped by this time we would have achieved several milestones. I am disappointed to learn that even the Memorandum of Understanding is not yet signed with Botswana Investment Trade Centre.” She expressed optimism however that something will be done before their term elapses. Muzila reiterated that they want to see the city realising the vision of becoming the investment centre of vibrance and that revolves around developing the plot.
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