Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Lack of decentralisation undermines F/Town

Former Francistown mayor and specially nominated councillor, James Kgalajwe, has raised fears that Francistown will not achieve its vision of becoming an investment hub by 2022 due to the fact that government is not decentralising services.

Francistown City Council (FCC) is currently working around the clock to transform into an investment hub by 2022.

There are fears already that the second city is slowly regressing into a ghost town.

Giving his response to Francistown Mayor, Sylvia Muzila’s speech last week during a full council meeting, he said that most of the major services are found in Gaborone, a situation which daunts Francistown’s hopes of becoming an investment hub by 2022. He said it becomes difficult to deliver services to the business sector and the public if all the decisions are made in Gaborone.

“I think there is need for us as the local authority to lobby the government to at least establish┬áregional offices at director level here in Francistown to execute timely decisions and improve service delivery. This would also help attract investors. If you look at government offices in Francistown, they are all run at junior level while all the decisions have to be made in Gaborone. It becomes difficult and frustrating,” he told the full council.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Francistown full council meeting in an interview he said Francistown as a city, should not be dependent on other cities, but should be self dependent.

“When a town becomes a city it should not be dependent on other cities but it should have its own services. Here in Francistown we merely have satellite offices; all the decisions are made at the head offices in Gaborone. This includes the parastatals and even the private sector,” he said.

Kgalajwe said such a situation has led to most investors preferring Gaborone over Francistown due to access of services. He said countries such as South Africa, which have since decentralised services have a vibrant business sector. He said government should at least build regional offices in Francistown at director level. He said such a move would help serve other areas such as Maun, Kasane and Selibe Phikwe and ease the workload that Gaborone faces.

“Imagine if one wants to certify a document and has to go to Gaborone just for an approval of a stamp and signature. We do not even have a Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) office in Francistown. This becomes a serious challenge and it even demoralises potential investors. Doing business in Francistown is becoming a challenge due this problem,” said Kgalajwe.

On a different note, Kgalajwe said Francistown has much potential of becoming a force in the African region due to its abundant resources. He gave example of the surrounding mines and dams. He also said that its position as the gateway to North African countries gives it a good platform to become a city of vibrancy.

“My other plan is to lobby the government to come up with a beneficiation strategy so that these mines can benefit the people of Francistown. It is sad to note that most of these mines dig our minerals and there is no significant change in the lives of the people of Francistown. People are languishing in poverty,” he said in conclusion.

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