Along the Gaborone Molepolole road in the heart of the Village, lies a magnificent shopping complex called MAFENYATLALA MALL.
This development came into being after the then Mafenyatlala Hotel was gutted by fire in 2003.
“We wanted to turn this disaster into an opportunity and it was indeed a wake-up call for us,“ says Kweneng Rural Development Association (KRDA) Chairman, Shima Monageng.
Monageng tells The Telegraph that more than P50 million has been invested to build the mall. This resulted in the marriage between Cash Bazaar Holdings and Kweneng Rural Development Association.
Cash Bazaar Holdings are the developers having signed a long lease with KRDA on a lease back basis.
The entire property could revert to the community after the expiry of the 35-year lease without KRDA or the community paying for the P50m development or have the lease extended to another 20 years at a rental of P9┬á000┬á000 for the entire period of the lease.
“Plans are progressing well for the official opening of the mall on July 8. Among those invited to the official opening are Dikgosi, Tribal Authority, Village Development Committee (VDC) Councillors and Members of Parliament, not as politicians but as leaders of the community entrusted in bringing developments and improving the lives of Bakwena. We would not have achieved such a development if it was not through the invaluable assistance of our leaders, especially our Paramount Chief, Kgari Sechele 111 and others,” says Monageng, adding that they have engaged local artists, traditional dance troupes as well as poets to provide entertainment.
He said that the spectacular shopping complex has changed the landscape of Molepolole drastically and that some residents of Molepolole were skeptical about the projects, contending that the mall may become a white elephant.
“As we speak all the spaces are occupied, offering employment to over 200 Batswana. There are three commercial banks, Spar supermarket, Cash Build and KFC, which are some of the major retail shops that the mall prides itself with. All of us should embrace and acknowledge as maiteko a Sechaba sa mokwena. It should be remembered that our objectives as Kweneng Rural Development Association are to bring about development in the District and help create employment, this is exactly what we have done with this mall,” he added.
Furthermore, Monageng said that plans are under way to refurbish the BP filling station adjacent to the shopping complex to make it compatible with the current development.
“Not only do we intend to develop the filling station but Mafenyatala Hotel too. The hotel will be built on the southern side of the mall, towards Gathaone Dam for it to have a beautiful landscape. All these developments are what Bakwena deserve,” he said.
Monageng said the initiative to have such developments in the Bakwena capital was a way of emulating other tribes, citing Bakgatla Baga Kgafela, Bangwato and Bafokeng in South Africa, who have developments that are entirely trustees of the tribe. He said in the 80s and 90s, cooperatives in Molepolole were owned by communities with the profits going towards the tribe’s coffers. Our Government encourages Ipelegeng (self reliance) and community and private partnership.
“To instill a sense of being within the tribe and also to encourage the tribe to accord their chief the respect that he deserves, after the takeover of our KRDA brigade by government, my board has proposed that the remaining developments be under an association to be called Kgosi Kgari Sechele III Development Association. We want our paramount chief to be the trustee of these developments, as government will no longer be taking part in such commercial endeavors. The paramount chief will then be the umbrella and custodian of these properties as the tradition dictates. We have held meetings with all headsmen in the District and they fully agreed to this concept,” he added.
According to Monageng, the concept has always been there as is evidenced by the silos at the Bakwena main Kgotla where the tribe used to bring all sorts of products, which in turn were distributed among people in times of drought.
“We are determined to revive the spirit of self reliance, unity among the tribe and respect to our Kgosi Kgolo so as to achieve optimum development for our community; this, in my view, is long overdue,” says Monageng, who appears to be very passionate about developments in Molepolole under KRDA, an organization he has led for more than 10 years.