The general election may be some months away but I have already reached a conclusion that there is one party I will certainly not (note the emphasis) vote for: the Botswana National Front. They may win the Gaborone West North Constituency where I reside, but they will not do so with my help that’s for sure. And, when they start doing “house-to-house” campaigns, my humble advice is that they should skirt around my residence. Dintsa di tlaabo di golotswe.
The reason is simple, really. The Gaborone City Council is run by a bunch of incompetent political pterodactyls. Unfortunately, this inertia has seeped into the spines of the Council employees who are supposedly non-partisan and action driven. In the words of one Boris Johnson, the City Council, from the political masters right down to their support staff, “are not just empty. They are a void within a vacuum surrounded by a vast inanition”. They simply are at sea.
We have tried, those of us who took the trouble to nestle down in Block 7, to get the City Council to address the problem of illegal vendors who have emerged since the establishment of yet another Limkokwing University Campus right on our doorsteps, with no success. These folks are turning a once promising neighbourhood into a squatter camp to be honest. And very few of these marauding forces, if any, live in the area. They troop in the mornings carrying all sorts of horrendous paraphernalia, some to be used as umbrellas, chairs, cooking utensils, tables and then nonchalantly proceed to set up shop despite our protestations. Further, with little regard for the paths of power lines, public walkways and water pipes, they just establish themselves anywhere. I suppose they have concluded that many of us do not possess the physique necessary to sustain a grueling brawl. That the value of property in the area has been affected by the take over and in which direction, is no longer a matter for conjecture.
Obviously, there are no public ablution and general kitchen facilities so one can imagine what the situation is turning out to be. To avoid being accused of short-circuiting bureaucracy, our representative began by engaging the Bye-Law Office team who were all gung-ho on being presented with a vivid picture of the invasion. One of them, in the manner of a General who believes in leading from the front, went to survey the battle field and left convinced that something had to be done.
Machinery to remove any containers being used as spaza shops would be deployed and no illegal trader was to be spared, we were assured. “Hallelujah!” we chorused.
So much for the macho talk because nothing came out of it. I must say though that they are really nice blokes the Bye-Law Office cadre, if that amounts to anything.
The next move was to write to the City Clerk with the letter copied to the Mayor and, of course, the Member of Parliament. Well, the traders are still there and multiplying. I suppose the fact that the MP’s own party members in the area have shown no confidence in him, he could not be bothered. Not that he ever has. As for the Councillor, I have never seen him or her neither do I know his or her name.
It seems to me that the City Council has a fascination for seeing spaza shops sprouting all over the place.
I am quite certain that if some daredevil were to set up his little shop in the middle of a traffic circle, he would not only be met with rapturous applause but would also receive the key to the City from the Mayor in recognition of his antics. After all, in the Block 7 area there are traders who have set up mobile shops at least by two bus stops. The traders in question are not even worried that a heavy weight of a passenger disembarking a combi could instantly fall on them for want of space. They just want to make money no matter the circumstances.
The proliferation of illegal traders all over Gaborone is turning the City into one ramshackle of a spectacle and complicit in this farce by their inaction are the politicians who are afraid to lose their seats. It stumps me as to why there is a Bye-Law Enforcement Office, or even bye-laws, when they can’t be put into gear. This is just flipping unbelievable.
Certainly, people must be allowed to eke out a living but not by employing the guerilla tactics we are seeing. Political expediency rather than effective management of the City’s affairs is the mantra at the GCC. The fascination with being chauffeured around the City in a luxury car bedecked with national and ceremonial flags takes precedence over service delivery.
The Block 7 area is also the only place in Gaborone where there are no street names.
As for Gaborone in general, it is probably one of the few cities, bar Mogadishu and other periled places, where you cannot find a useful map, especially if you are a visitor. In other self-respecting cities you would be able to reach your destination with just the aid of your geographical thingamajig.
The Mayor and his team may snigger all they like and proceed to accuse me of trying to confect a pseudo row over what they believe to be nothing. Well, it will certainly be something when I walk into that ballot booth in 2009. Death is the only thing you are allowed to cheat, my friends.