Francistown City Council specially-elected councillor and former mayor James Kgalajwe has confirmed that he will enter the race to contest for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Francistown regional chairmanship over the weekend.

His sentiments follow hard on allegations that he is positioning himself to challenge Francistown East Member of Parliament in the 2019 general election. The source said once Kgalajwe clinches the chairmanship his campaign strategy will be on a good course as he will use his position to lure electorate to his side.

But Kgalajwe said his main aim of entering the chairmanship race was his desire to work for the party to offset the opposition in 2019. “You must realise that when one has a position of responsibility their chances of proxy politics are very limited as all regional complaints are addressed by them.

“If I win the chairmanship position, I will not have any space to do proxy campaigns since all democrats in the Francistown region will look up to me for guidance,” he added. Francistown regional secretary Raoboy Mpuang who is also alleged to be itching for Francistown West Constituency currently under Ignatius Moswaane will not defend his position over the weekend to allow himself ample time for house to house campaigns.

Mpuang rubbished such claims in a recent interview saying that his hands are currently full with his personal projects which will make it impossible for him to deliver.

Published in Northren Extra

Several Francistown City Councillors agreed during a special full council meeting on Tuesday that Members of Parliament must be prevented from controlling the P10 million constituency grants to be allocated to constituencies across the country.

Mayor Sylvia Thabitha Muzila said the city has three constituencies which all requested erection of 25 tower lights in their wards at a cost of P350 000 per unit to minimise criminal activities and social ills. She feared if grated this would compromise other developments plans.

Specially elected councillor James Kgalajwe proposed that MPs should not be given any opportunity to control the funds as they are strictly meant for local government through its various wards. If MPs control the grants, they’ll propose projects that give them political mileage, he said.

“We must concentrate on income generating programmes instead of developments that cannot generate future income,” Kgalajwe suggested. He was supported by councillor for Botsalano ward Zibanani Benfield, former FCC mayor and special elected councillor Peter Ngoma and BMD councillor Gaone Majere who all feared that if MPs control the grant it would be politicised.

Benfield begged the house to consider allocating two or three open spaces to her Ward Development Committee so that her electorate can also benefit. Ngoma  advised that proposals for city developments must not be white elephants and that entertainment halls to be built must be of international standards likely to lure international and local artist and companies to use them. Majere advised that instead of sharing the money within WDC, the funds should be distributed at council ward level to balance things.

Published in Northren Extra

Adirective by former Minister of Transport and Communications Tshenolo Mabeo last year to have three homesteads squeezed inside the Francistown Spaghetti intersection relocated have finally materialised.

Both home owners have been given new plots at Coloured location. Mabeo had pointed out that the lives of the three families would remain in danger from accidents due to their proximity to all the interchanging roads and ramps of the spaghetti. Although the project director Carthage Matlhaga had tried to convince the Minister of their decision and reasons to leave the three homesteads inside the construction perimeters, the minister was not convinced as he stressed that if anything happens to any of the concerned homes, his ministry would shoulder the blame.

When Northern Extra visited the three affected families, they were all smiles as they revealed that they have been given plots at Coloured location even though they have not yet been taken to view the plots. Rose Bontshitswe who initially complained that she was not prepared to be relocated to a place far away from Nyangabgwe hospital was satisfied with the location she will be relocated to since it is near to the hospital unlike Gerald Estates where they were initially to be relocated.

“They have so far given me a house number but I have not been taken to view the plot because they are still making assessment as how much they will pay for our looming relocation. As a Social worker dependent, I would prefer the Social workers not to give me money but build me a house instead,” Bontshitswe said beaming with happiness.

Annah Moseki explained that their relocation was taking forever. She complained that since Dineo cyclone she has been literally living inside a pond as all the water flowing down from the intersection pass through her yard exposing her family to unnecessary danger.
“I am happy to have been relocated away from this dangerous place even though I would have preferred to be moved to Gerald Estates where there are a good number of future developments. I am always at loggerheads with the contractors as they say that I disturb them by digging a trench on their site to divert flowing water from causing more damage inside my yard. My prayer is for the g final assessment to end,” she said.

Published in Northren Extra

The country’s road infrastructure continues to deteriorate in the wake of recent flash floods.

The A1 road has been the hardest   hit with damage to the tar and collapsed bridges. However, the Ministry of Transport and Communication this week announced that a culvert has collapsed along the A3 road at Nata Village hindering   the flow   of   traffic.

The damage has mostly affected heavy-duty   vehicle that are temporarily barred from passing through the damaged area. “The A3  is a major public highway network   that runs from Ghanzi in the western part of the country and connects to 33 route from Nata Village to Kasane and Kazungula tourist centres,” a statement from the Ministry of Transport reads.

“The culvert collapsed   this past Sunday on one side of the road at 10 km location before Nata village en route to Francistown. The Roads   department technical team is on site   to rectify the situation in the   shortest possible time, ” the press statement reads. Only vehicles and mini buses that sit up to 25 seater are allowed to pass through the damaged roads while truck and other vehicles   are not allowed until the problem is   solved.

Published in News

President Ian Khama has promised the private sector that his government would create a conducive environment for private sector growth and positive economic growth by maintaining and improving its policies and the regulatory framework.

Officiating at the 14th National Business Conference in Francistown this week Khama said it’s important to realise that the government or private sector alone cannot position Botswana on a high, stable non-inflationary and diversified economic growth. “We have been consistent as government in our view that the private sector has a central role in our pursuit of economic transformation. We firmly believe that the business of producing goods and services through meaningful and productive utilisation of our natural endowments, information and technology, human capital, as well as entrepreneurial capabilities can best be handled by the private sector, hence the true notion that the private sector is the engine of growth for the economy,” he said.He reiterated that government initiated the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) in 2010 to primarily accelerate economic diversification which had proved to be a challenge since independence.

“EDD emphasises export-led growth while developing productive capacity of enterprises for both domestic and external markets.” The initiative is driven on a Short Term and Medium Term strategy. In the short term, government leverages on its purchasing power through the use of preference margins to promote the production and consumption of locally produced goods and services, explained Khama. He noted that the value of cumulative total purchases since inception in 2010 amounts to P22 billion. Out of this figure, the value of purchases from local manufacturers and service providers is P11 billion. Khama revealed that so far a total of 1 625 enterprises have been registered. These companies have created 44 337 jobs. He said that the Long Term Strategy aims to develop Botswana enterprises to become nationally and globally competitive with little or no government intervention. “The main aim is to diversify the economy into sectors that will continue to grow long after minerals have run out,” said Khama.

He explained that government was also facilitating the use of locally manufactured building and road construction materials by contractors in all Economic Stimulus projects. “To-date, 74 locally-based manufacturers of building and road construction materials have been registered in the Roads, Building and Construction Manufacturer’s Database,” said Khama who added that assessments were currently being undertaken to ascertain their capacity and capabilities to produce the required materials in the right quantities and quality. “These companies offer great potential in our pursuit for employment creation,” he stated.

Khama also revealed that his government will promote effective business regulations and private property rights to ensure that businesses are not hobbled by excessive regulations and red tape. “In this regard, government is implementing a Doing Business Reforms Roadmap and Action Plan with a view to addressing administrative, legal and structural bottlenecks,” said Khama, adding that government has in its quest to modernise the economy and position it as a global competitor, opened up the provision of water and power, as well as delivery of road infrastructure projects to private capital.

Published in News

This year’s Domboshaba Festival of Culture and History (DFCH), scheduled for October 1st to 4th provides stakeholders with an opportunity to review the history of the annual event which started 15 years ago.  Started by the Mukani Action Campaign (MAC) as a forum for the mobilisation of Bakalanga around the preservation and promotion of their language and culture, the DFCH has been held since the year 2000.

MAC is a society of Kalanga language writers based in Francistown. Its mandate is to publish books in the language. The Society for the Promotion of Ikalanga Language (SPIL) soon joined MAC to facilitate the annual event. The Domboshaba Cultural Trust (DCT) took over the running of the festival in 2008 from MAC and SPIL. Since then, the DCT has been holding the festival annually to raise awareness among Bakalanga about their history, language and culture. Under the watch of the DCT, several Kalanga books and pamphlets have to date been published.

In addition to that, the trust has, on several occasions, engaged the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (ME&SD) on the restoration of Kalanga language in the education system of this country. Asked whether the festival had achieved its objectives, the publicity secretary of the Domboshaba Cultural Trust which organises the event, Kangangwane Phatshwane, answered in the affirmative. “We might not be where we would have liked to be right now but good progress has been made. Bakalanga are now more confident with respect to using their language at public functions such as weddings and funerals.

More and more churches now compose and sing Kalanga hymns and choruses. All this is significant because it has restored the language into the public domain,” he said. He is happy that some private newspapers feature articles in the Kalanga language. In Phatshwane’s view, since the Domboshaba festival started even public perceptions about languages other than Setswana and English, have changed. “Even Btv broadcasts a session recorded in the Naro language; an indigenous language in Ghanzi. In the past, this could never happen,” stated the DCT spokesman. His view is that, the Domboshaba annual festival has encouraged other tribes throughout the country to celebrate their cultures.

“We have generated a lot of interest on culture nationally hence the cultural renaissance countrywide,” explained. Kalanga is a transnational language found in both Botswana and Zimbabwe. The fact that it has recently been made an official language in Zimbabwe gives hope to Phatshwane that going forward, Botswana government will also follow suit. “If government continues to rebuff us, you might have a situation where Kalanga children cross over to Zimbabwe to learn their language,” proclaimed Phatshwane who added that his organisation has not heard anything from the Ministry of Education lately. The last time the two communicated, DCT received a non-committal answer from the ministry after requesting for the re-introduction of Kalanga in schools. The ministry also promised a language pitso where stakeholders would interact over the matter. “There has not been further communication with government on the matter. We intend to engage the new minister on the teaching of Kalanga,” said the DCT official.

Unlike the usual performing arts, Kalanga traditional dance and song, this year’s Domboshaba Festival of Culture and History (DFCH), will feature activities such as a football game and a bicycle race. “For instance, there will be a football game at Vukwi village and a bicycle race the following morning which is a Friday. This will be followed in the afternoon by a tour of the heritage sites and then a night around the fire featuring song, dance, games, poetry and folk-tales among other activities, at Mosojane village,” said Phatshwane who added that the main event, will be held at the usual place at the Domboshaba hills at Kalakamate on the 3rd day of the month.

To be held under the theme: Inclusion In And Through Education: Language Counts, the event will be officially opened by Mishodzi Molokomme on October 3rd. Molokomme is one of the founding trustees of the DCT.T. The programme will end on the 4th day of the month with the usual Nswazwi marathon. Apparently, the sporting activities at the start of the programme are the result of overtures by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture to all cultural organisations to have a more interactive relationship with the ministry. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture was on national television recently indicating that the relationship he proposes would include sponsorship of cultural festivals by his ministry.

Published in Northren Extra
Tuesday, 16 June 2015 15:14

Whither F|town’s Vision 2022?

Opinion was always divided about Francistown Investment Forum (FIF) even among the most optimistic in Botswana’s second city.  While optimists insisted that the initiative, which came into being last year, would turn the city into an  investment centre of vibrance by the year 2022, the pessimists dismissed outright as a political gimmick by jittery populist politicians seeking to strengthen their hand ahead of the general election  in October 2014. At worst, it was viewed as an excuse by self-seeking individuals to position themselves for self-aggrandisement.

Some 10 or so months on, there is no evidence that FIF is still alive, even as a concept. Dubbed the Gateway to Greater Africa, the value proposition of Francistown is anchored on the fact that the city gives investors access to a market base of at least 200 million people, boasts an airport of international standards, has good road and rail connectivity, has abundant water and land resources and good scenic views, among other things. On the back of the euphoria that greeted FIF, Francistown became the City of All Things Precious.

But in the place of the enthusiasm that greeted the initiative, there is growing cynicism. The negativity towards FIF has been compounded by allegations of a power struggle which led, allegedly, to the dismissal of both the steering and investment committees amid allegations that some individuals on the executive committee sought to have a stake in companies that wanted to invest in the city. Reportedly, towering incompetence resulted in a company that had wanted to set up shop in Francistown relocating to Selibe-Phikwe.
Said Sylvia Muzila, the Mayor of Francistown and apex chairperson of FIF at a Full Council meeting this week: “Let me re-affirm that despite some challenges that we still face, some significant progress has indicated that we are on track in achieving these initiatives. Let me take this opportunity, therefore, to update this House on the projects and programmes of the city.”

The “update” that followed consisted of poverty eradication initiatives, a report on the performance of the Ipelegeng programme, the turnkey housing programme, the status of the Francistown abattoir, feedback from kgotla meetings held by the Mayor herself, and the city’s annual strategic plan, among others.

Defending her failure to give an update on FIF and instead addressing the usual challenges such as poverty, Muzila said in an interview: “We have to adopt a holistic approach and uplift Francistown in all respects. By getting rid of pit latrines, we are in a way addressing the goals of the Forum. As we go around looking for undeveloped plots and encouraging the owners to develop them, we will have no choice but to repossess those whose owners cannot develop them. These plots will be put into our land bank for the benefit of investors. As the council, we have a farm and I am happy to say that investors have been approaching us with ideas and proposals.” She rounded off the interview with a pat on her own back by saying she was “doing a lot” for the Forum in terms of talking to investors.

But Muzila could not give a clear answer regarding whether new businesses were setting up in Francistown as envisaged under FIF. “Remember I am new in the office and it took a bit of time before I was properly briefed about Vision 2022,” said the Mayor who assumed office in November last year after the general election. She explained in an interview that during the 18 kgotla meetings that she recently addressed in Francistown, she briefed the community about the city’s Vision. “I tried to make people understand that as a community, and consistent with the Vision, they must look after their surroundings and ensure that the town is clean,” she said. “I also talked to them about sports, especially football. They need to come together, rally behind the local teams and not allow of them to relegate as has happened to ECCO and TAFIC football clubs.” She added that in her next series of meetings, she will invite suggestions from the community regarding the Vision.

“I should be ready during the next full council meeting to zero in on the Vision more directly,” she said. “Besides, I have recently delegated the City Clerk to make a benchmarking visit to SPEDU in Selibe-Phikwe. SPEDU is an investment company. We have an investment company here called Mooiplek and would like to study SPEDU’s structure of staffing, the mandate of the company and its terms of reference.” She is looking forward to a meeting with the City Clerk to get feedback on the visit. Muzila disclosed that to demonstrate commitment to Vision 2022, FCC took time off to attend the BOCCIM Northern Trade Fair (BNTF) in Francistown recently where councillors and staff interacted with businesspeople as potential partners in the actualisation of Vision 2022. But another member of the Apex, Julius Bolokwe, is worried about progress thus far made by his committee. His worries are justified because none of the milestones set by the Botswana Investment Trade Centre (BITC) for FIF last year have been achieved. Noted BITC in writing then: “There is also need for the following to be done for the region to achieve its Vision 2022: capitalisation of the project, staffing, branding, planning and zoning, sales and marketing, project evaluations, policy advocacy and improving the investment climate.”

According to the BITC project plan, an investment company and a board should have been set up by the end of October last year. Critically, a CEO and a management team should have been hired by the end of January, but no such thing has been done. In addition to that, Trade and After-care Missions, which up to now do not exist, should have been put in place to go all out to attract investment into Greater Francistown, find markets for goods and services produced in the region, identify and invest in profitable projects both locally and internationally, manage and align the regional brand to the national one. No progress has been made in this regard either.

Says a crestfallen Bolokwe today: “The key thing is the hiring of the CEO. What is holding us back is the fact that the council, whose mandate it is to draw up a specification in terms of the type of person we need, has not done that. The council has not told us what it wants.” He adds that applications from potential investors are being handled by the District Commissioner and City Clerk. “This is not the most ideal situation,” he says. “With the current situation, we find ourselves having to be reactive because the people concerned also have their full-time jobs on which they must deliver. The CEO would, as a full-time employee, become more proactive.” Bolokwe is not alone in his circumspection. An insider who prefers anonymity discussing the contentious matter says Francistown is not endowed with visionary leaders. “This is a major problem,” the insider notes. “FIF is in trouble today due to self-seeking but incompetent leaders.” A major concern of his is that the inertia of the local leadership is engendering cynicism and negativity among stakeholders, especially the community.

Published in Northren Extra
Tuesday, 02 June 2015 10:00

Decentralise health ministry-councillors

Francistown city councillors have vehemently called on the municipality and Members of Parliament to decentralise the Ministry of Health (MOH).

The call was deliberated during a full council meeting on Tuesday by councillors when responding to the Mayor Sylvia Muzila`s address. Muzila had cited shortage of doctors and drugs at health facilities and lack of transport for collecting medication and shortage of ambulances among some of the thorny issues that worry Francistown residents. Residents have appealed to the Mayor during her Kgotla meetings to bring back services to districts. Councillor for Phillip Matante East, Shadreck Nyeku said the solution to the problems lies with devolution of powers to the districts away from central government.

“It is very worrying that just recently MOH destroyed drugs worth P60 million because they had expired,” he said, adding that such wastage could be avoided by developing efficient distribution networks at district level. Devolution will also minimise the inconvenience patients suffer as a result of being sent from pillar to post in search of unavailable drugs in clinics. Phillip Matante West councillor, Biki Mbulawa said the situation is bad that patients are told to seek services from other clinics which have drugs even before they are attended to.

Somerset East Councillor Gunda Joe said decentralization is being delayed by workers who think being associated with Councils is demeaning. During 2011/2012 financial year the then assistant minister of MOH Gaotlhaetse Mathabaphiri revealed that the value  of expired medicines  at Central Medical Stores (CMS) was P21, 225, 700. The drugs were procured during the years between 2007 and 2010. MOH records showed at the time that government lost P8 million worth of drugs that expire annually.

Published in Northren Extra
Tuesday, 02 June 2015 09:56

Organisations urged not to fear Auditors

Vice President of the Institute of Internal Auditors Botswana (IIAB) Ernest Kelapile has pleaded with organisations to invite them to come and audit them as well as to seek advice from them.

“It is unfortunate that most organisations still have the perception that auditors are monstrous to an extent that they are afraid of auditors,” said Kelapile. But quite contrarily, auditors act as watchdogs of organisations by ensuring that governance standards and principles are adhered to. It’s not all the time that auditors come on a fault-finding mission, but sometimes visit organisations to gauge progress.

Speaking at the IIAB Awareness Day, Mayor of Francistown Sylvia Muzila urged internal audit practitioners to also perform proactive fraud detection to discourage malpractices before they occur in a company. Muzila advised auditors to produce fair, balanced and understandable reports and accounts as some skeptics may complain that financial disclosures are cumbersome due to length and amount of information required to be disclosed. She said that internal audit is crucial in areas such as compensation, board performance and organisational performance.

Published in Northren Extra
Tuesday, 02 June 2015 09:50

Councillors shun BALA funeral scheme

Francistown Councillors have vowed that they will never join the resuscitated funeral scheme of Botswana Local Authorities Association (BALA). The association of councils signed the memorandum for the funeral scheme, which also provides members access to loans at National Development Bank (NDB). The scheme is an effort to improve the living standards and welfare of councillors, said BALA Chairperson of welfare Committee Botho Ntirang. Speaking during a Francistown full council meeting this week, the Sowa councillor said that to cater for councillors’ welfare Bala came up with a task force, which initiated the funeral scheme, which later collapsed.

The collapsed funeral cover was called Mmasepala wealth plan, forged between Peo Boswa Insurance Brokers, a signatory of Metropolitan life Botswana, to enable serving and former councillors to have a proper funeral and insurance covers. The scheme, which was cancelled in 2013, had a subscription fee of P200, P170 of which was investment cover while P23 was for the funeral cover. Ntirang told Councillors that they have resuscitated the scheme and appealed to them to join. He said members will pay P23 subscription which guarantees a funeral cover of P20 000 for the member, spouse and nuclear family. A top up amount would guarantee in-laws and extended family funeral cover of P5000, he said. Ntirang said the scheme also offers special loans both to councillors and council workers provided they are routed through BALA.

The scheme offers loans ranging from Bonno loan (home ownership); agricultural loan to buy farming implements to Nthuta loan, which caters for Councillor’s education. However, Councillors expressed outright misgivings about the scheme. Councillor for central ward Biki Mbulawa said he will never join the scheme irrespective of the form it resurfaces in because once bitten twice shy. “As a victim of Mmasepala I will never join this scheme. I was never paid my full amount despite my contributions that lasted for 11 months,” lamented Mbulawa. Ben Mpotokwane councillor for Donga said it was such a disgrace that despite the FCC having a welfare committee, they only got to know of such news from an outsider. He said the FCC welfare committee should wake up and update councillors well in time about their welfare issues. “The scheme is okay but it came at a late time.

All councillors are committed except for two or three. 90 percent of councillors have already committed their salaries to other needs this scheme will only benefit those who will be coming in the next general election,” charged nominated councillor Peter Ngoma. Councillor for Central ward Ephraime Maiketso lamented that he was one of the contributors for the first scheme which failed to meet their needs because of BALA’s incompetence.  “Last year BALA held a meeting in Adonsonia, as the host we expected most dignitaries to be from our council and that was never so. BALA is totally failing to take care of the welfare of councillors,” charged Maiketso. In response Ntirang urged members to join the resuscitated scheme.

Published in Northren Extra
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