Thursday, October 28, 2021

Govt frustrates Francistown’s “Vision 2022” economic efforts?

In 2013, Francistown City Council (FCC) hatched “Vision 2022” as part of its endeavour to transform the second city into an economic hub and a destination of choice by 2022.

Part of the vision was cantered on the transformation of Francistown Golf Club (Plot 2531) 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.

Information reaching the Sunday Standard suggests that last year, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development ordered the suspension of the project with no reason. The golf club plot which belongs to FCC measures 43 hectares and was to be transformed into a CBD entailing hotels, International Convention Centre, high density residential area, a mall and recreational park among others.

A highly placed source at FCC told the Sunday Standard last week that Francistown councilors and the mayoress, Sylvia Muzila are disappointed and frustrated by the government’s move. They have since elected a delegation that will approach the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Pelonomi Venson Moitoi to lift the suspension of the project. 

“The project came to a halt when a telephone call was made from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to suspend the project six months ago. Even the Minister then, Slumber Tsogwane confirmed to the city council that the project had to be suspended. No reasons were given as to why it should be suspended. It is six months since the project was halted and everyone is in the dark as to why. This has disappointed everyone including the city councilors across political divide who had expected this project to help add value to the economy of Francistown,” said the source.

Some FCC councilors 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 councilors including the mayoress 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 heartbreaking,” they said.

In July last year, Francistown Mayoress Sylvia Muzila had announced in the full council meeting that they had found a partner, Bothakga Burrows Pty (Ltd)  in joint Partnership with China Civil Engineering Construction as their partners to invest in the area. The unkempt plot which is situated along Marang road has been undeveloped for years and has been used as a haven for criminal activities.

In an interview with the Sunday Standard, Muzila confirmed that the project was suspended by the ministry but could not comment further on why the suspension was made.

“I am equally frustrated and disappointed because we had begun this project to try and add value to the economy of our city. Our vision 2022 was centred on this project. The delay is very worrisome. We have however elected a delegation to approach the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to try and find out why the project has been suspended for so long. We hope the ministry will lift the suspension,” said a clearly disappointed Muzila.

Francistown is currently on an economic death bed following the closure of several mines in its vicinity. The city is plagued by among others challenges of unemployment, crime and poverty.

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