The new complex has been standing idle for a year after construction was completed because the minister is playing hardball. Construction of the business complex began in 2010 and was completed last year but it has been an empty shell with no activity because the owners still have to meet the requirements to attain trading licences.
The multi-million yellow edifice sitting opposite Tatitown Police Station was initially set to open at the beginning of this year. Recently, Makgato-Malesu said the Chinese business community must meet the requirements before she can issue licences.
She said that the ministry will not allow segregation. "I will not promote and licence business that are segregated.Unless and until I get notification from this business community that they have integrated Batswana and other nationalities to trade out of Oriental Plaza, it will stay closed," she said.
She said that Oriental Plaza would open as soon as those requirements are met. Oriental Plaza consultant, Sam Masunga said that they are working with the speed of lightning to meet the requirements. He said the owners have taken heed of the minister's advice and are looking for other traders to come on board. If all goes well, the complex is likely to be open for business in December this year. "Basically the minister wants integration and our clients know that. We are still in the process of complying with those conditions," Masunga explained. He said that last month, they put up an advertisement inviting businesspeople to apply to trade in the complex.
"We fully agree that there should be no segregation and so when Oriental Plaza opens, there will be a variety of nationalities such as Batswana, Chinese, Indians and Zimbabweans," he said. He explained that at the moment, they are still looking at the applications in compliance with the government policy of Economic Diversification Drive (EDD).
He said there are 50 units in the complex and they expect 30 Batswana to rent out spaces. "There will restaurants, supermarkets, clothing outlets, hair salons and furniture stores," he said. The facility is owned by Chen Jian Fei, the proprietor of Oriental Plaza in Gaborone.