Former Francistown Mayor James Kgalajwe is currently working around the clock to revive the now defunct Francistown Investment Forum (FIF).
Kgalajwe says once resuscitated, FIF can help salvage the second city from becoming a ghost town.
The former mayor was the founder of FIF in 2013 during his tenure as mayor. His term came to an end in 2014. The main objective of FIF was to attract investment into the city and promote the already existing investment opportunities in sectors such as Agriculture, Mining, Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Tourism. It was in line with Francistown Council Vision 2022 which was also premised at transforming the second city into an investment hub of choice.
“Remember Francistown Investment Forum was my brain child. It died a natural death when my term in office came to an end as my predecessors were not interested in proceeding with the initiative. I am still holding on to a dream in seeing Francistown flourish,” he said.
Kgalajwe expressed disappointment that his predecessors did not have an interest in continuing where he left to try and bring investors into the second city through the FIF. He added that Francistown has potential to becoming an investment hub more so that it is strategically located as a gateway to countries such as Zimbabwe, Zambia and even the Democratic Republic of Congo. The city has since been declared a Special Economic Zone in Mining, Transportation and Logistics by the Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZA).
“The current city leadership is failing Francistown. Politicians are now only interested in enriching themselves and have forgotten about those who elected them into power. They are serving their selfish interests. The economic situation in Francistown has also been exacerbated by the current Covid-19 pandemic,” he said
Kgalajwe said during his tenure as mayor he travelled to countries such as China, USA and Belgium as part of his efforts to lure in investment into the city and to make sure that FIF realized its goals. He said one of his ambitions as mayor was to make Francistown economically independent and not rely on government. He said in other countries cities are self sufficient.
“I had profiled Francistown and the surrounding areas in a bid to sell it to investors. I had a dream to see Francistown flourish economically. The city is currently plagued by high numbers of unemployment and poverty a situation which was also catapulted by the closure of the mines in its surroundings, “said Kgalajwe.
Kgalajwe said that the mistake he did was to let FIF be run under the mayor’s office which led to its demise as it was now politicized. Once it is resuscitated, the former mayor said the forum should be run by the people of Francistown particularly volunteers who do not have any political interests. He said that these individuals should comprise of think tanks that will drive the objectives of FIF to greater heights.
“One thing that is also killing the economy of Francistown is failure by government to decentralize services from Gaborone. This continues to drive away potential investors from doing business in the city. I believe through this forum we will continue to advocate for decentralization of services from Gaborone. Francistown should also be given authority as the second city,” he said.