As the current civic leaders in Francistown are wrapping up their five year term in office, the city Mayor, Sylivia Muzila has bemoaned the closure of two main employers being Tati Nickel mine and the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) plant which has crippled the economy of the city.
The closure of the two organizations has left many residents of Francistown jobless and hopeless. The buying power has been eroded in the city and many businesses were forced to close shop. Many of the residents are slowly loosing hope of ever finding a decent job that will drastically improve their standard of living. Government programme, Ipelegneg remain a source of income for many who are unemployed.
Giving her last address as the city Mayor, Muzila said the closure of the two entities was a major setback in her 5 year term as the city’s number 1 citizen. The BMC abattoir was shut down by former Minister of Agriculture, Patrick Ralotsia citing that it was dismally failing to slaughter its daily qouta and therefore an unprofitable entity to run. Ralotsia who was brutally honest when addressing the civic leaders before he was sacked from cabinet said the abattoir was struggling to reach the target of slaughtering 380 cattle per day for the past 10 years. “At times the abattoir was slaughtering zero cows in a day which does not make business sense. The government was incurring operational costs to keep the state of the art facility running with no returns,” he noted.
“This issue has been dragging for a very long time so we as politicians we have to tell our electorates the truth about the state of the abattoir. In 2005 the abattoir killed only 43 855 cattle while in 2006 the plant slaughtered 41 452.” According to Ralotsia, a number of factors contributed to the predicament of the abattoir. Amongst the factors, Ralotsia said famers were not selling their cattle to BMC complaining about low prices offered by the commission. The former minister noted that the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in the northern part of the country at times affected the output of the abattoir.
Muzila expressed hope that the abattoir will re-open as plans are underway to privatise the BMC adding that they remain optimistic that the re-opening of the facility would boost the city’s economy which is currently on its knees. Before the abattoir was closed, Muzila and her councillors tried everything in their power to prevent such a move. They held consultative meetings with farmers in an effort to persuade them to sell cattle to BMC to avoid its closure but farmers did not heed to their call. Most farmers were not amused about the parastatal’s tendency of paying suppliers very late.
On the positive side, Muzila was delighted that the iconic interchange popularly known as Spaghetti was constructed during their term. The interchange has improved the traffic flow in the city. The Mayor said there are other on-going projects spear headed by the private sector such as the expansion of Gallo Mall at the tune of P79 million and the construction of the P100 million Francistown academic hospital, which will give the city a facelift.