The Mayor of Francistown city, Sylvia Muzila together with her councillors have expressed shock and frustration that they were left out in the naming of the Francistown stadium while they were still waiting to be given the go-ahead to consult with their people.
President Ian Khama this week named the newly-opened facility the Francistown Sports Complex, contrary to the understanding of the city’s leadership on the processes set to source a name.
A fortnight ago, Muzila told BG Sport in an interview that they were putting systems in place to later engage the youth in suggesting suitable names for the facility. She had said then that they were awaiting the green light from the sports ministry to start the process. This week however, Muzila was still in the dark about the latest development when asked how she and the council arrived at the use of Francistown Sports Complex as the facility’s name. “To tell you the truth I am shocked about the name because as it is right now I am waiting for Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture (MYSC) to give us a go-ahead to consult residents in and around Francistown to come up with the name.
I am not aware that it has already been named,” she said. She however conceded that the name was still “a good name” and that she would accept it. Tatitown ward councillor Gaethusi Ramolotsana – in whose area the stadium is located - said that he also learnt about the name of the stadium through the press despite knowing that the naming of the stadium would be done through consultations with the residents in the area. “I think it is high time icons in Botswana started getting recognition, and I believe the people would have come with a better name,” he said.
Itekeng ward councillor Lesego Kwambala also said he was shocked by the naming of the stadium while they were preparing to consult. Kwambala said that for a facility like the stadium, it needed people of the area to be involved so that they would feel they have also played a role as well. Another councillor, Shadreck Nyeku of Philip Matante East said he could not accept the name as the authorities did not consult the people. “We were waiting for the completion of the stadium with the knowledge that we would then consult people on the naming of the facility,” he said.
In an interview, sports minister Thapelo Olopeng said that in the naming of the facility, he used social media networks like Facebook to consult people. He said that after the stadium was handed over on August 6, he then posted on Facebook that people should suggest names for the stadium. He said different names were posted and he ultimately had to make a decision with the help of other officials. “The Francistown stadium is a public structure not owned by any individual but a lot of suggested names made it like the facility belongs to a particular group of people, so we chose a name which would be neutral for all Batswana. I hear a lot of people are not happy especially in Francistown but they should understand that we do not want to create a national crisis,” the minister said. The stadium will be officially opened in the last week of November, Olopeng added.