The mayor of Sowa Town, George Maphane has expressed concern at the fact that the mining town has over the years remained stagnant in economic development and vibrancy. Speaking during a full council meeting last week, Maphane said one of the worst challenges faced by Sowa Town is acute shortage of office accommodation.
“Since establishment of Sowa Town, eight key departments have been occupying Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) houses. This presents a difficult working environment with obvious constraints of compromised confidentiality, security and requisite resources; for example furniture and equipment,” he said.
To address this challenge, said Maphane, there is need to engage the private sector for partnership agreements (Private Public Partnerships) to assist in provision of office facilities. He said this will relieve Sowa Town of the shortage of housing accommodation it is currently experiencing. He also explained that they can extend the partnership to provide business centres including stalls.
“The Private Public Partnership approach requires systematic date collection and analysis, up to date records of assets, needs assessment and business plans from local institutions, of which the Chairperson of the Finance and General Purpose Committee may have to take a leading role to facilitate and monitor the process,” he said.
He also said due to the remoteness of Sowa Town there is need to urgently engage in high level advocacy and negotiations to market the town.
“This will take the form of wide publicity and networking with strategic areas, both national and international. The town already has the advantage of BOTASH mine as a stakeholder. I am informed that the mine has established a company, Botash South Africa, to run its depot in South Africa and another has been opened up in Zambia, Botash Zambia to run the Zambian depot. We will have to explore these avenues for twinning and investment ventures,” Maphane said.
Among other important issues, the Mayor said he was impressed by the performance of Sowa Town and Flamingo schools in their previous academic performance. He however expressed concern with Nxakato Junior Secondary School as it has performed below national target. He said inadequate infrastructure is one of the contributory elements towards this poor performance.
“It has also been communicated to us that non commitment to education and behaviour by students is of grave concern. One thing that is even demoralizing to the teaching staff is little or no participation by parents to assist in moulding the children,” he said.
He said it is high time that they as Sowa Town council work as a team and take Education Improvement as a project. He said it is crucial that they leave a lasting impact in the school and entire education sector within their five year term.
On service delivery, Maphane said it is high time that they as Sowa Town council improve on their services. He said although money is a critical motivator, performance rewards, conducive work environment and job content should be taken seriously. He added that it is important for institutions and employees to practically apply Performance Based Reward System.
“This concept actually contains a number of aspects such as planning, implementation, evaluation, review and way forward which all pertain to performance enhancement. We desire to see Sowa employees receiving Minister’s Performance Rewards next year. Innovations and provision of resources can also make a job interesting and promote staff retention,” he said.
Touching on the recurrent budget, the Mayor said Sowa Town Council has been allocated P36, 490,650 as recurrent budget for the 2015/2016 financial year, an increase of 4.81 percent from the P34, 816,040 of the current financial year. He further said the projected revenue collection from own source and Revenue Support Grant constitutes 7.91 percent and 92.09 percent of the total budget respectively.
“Clearly, dependence on the government Revenue Support Grant is fast becoming a risk area for implementation of our mandate as a local authority. Figures reveal that 72.72 percent of the 2015/2016 will go to personnel emoluments while the remaining 28.28 percent is shared among Running, Establishment, and Special Expenses. This situation makes it imperative for us to devise innovative ways to increase our financial springs and expand our revenue base,” Maphane said.