SELEBI-PHIKWE: The Selebi-Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) came under heavy criticism from the business community here during a consultative meeting at the Selebi-Phikwe Town Hall last week.
Andrew Mosweu of Smart Youth Dry Cleaners said nobody cares about Selebi-Phikwe and the agency was jumping to deal with problems in other places like Bobirwa, Tswapong North and Mmadinare instead of dealing with problems in Selebi-Phikwe.
"I came to this meeting expecting to get feedback on the issues that we raised during another meeting that we held towards the end of last year," Mosweu said. "We told you the challenges that we are faced with in doing business in this town. I am now surprised to hear that you want more suggestions." He said attendance for the last meeting was but only a quarter of the people who previously attended were there now. He warned that nobody would turn up next time because people were losing interest in the agency.
The aim of the meeting was to solicit ideas on designing incentive packages for the region and identify the challenges businesses face. SPEDU Marketing and Communication Director, Wazha Tema, said the meeting was also aimed at proposing the formation of a Regional Business Forum which would form the key link between businesses and SPEDU.
"We are not saying that we will not recognise existing associations such as the Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) and Botswana Exporters and Manufacturers Association (BEMA)," he said.
"Existing associations must come forward and inform us about their existence. It is easier for the government to work with a collective body than individuals. However, the forum that will be set up will not be replacing existing
Tema explained that they would not compel anyone to be a member of the proposed association. He said SPEDU was not going in circles as some people alleged. He explained that the 43 suggestions and challenges that were raised in the last meeting were under consideration at different government departments. Palalani Moithobogi of Kgwebo Consultants said associations and incentive packages are serious matters that cannot be discussed in an open meeting.
"Businesses cannot just come up with an association that does not represent their interests," he said. "They must think about a forum that will serve their interests."
Simeon Lekwapa said SPEDU had nothing to offer the business community. He said the agency must assist them in increasing the pace of acquiring industrial plots.
Moeti Mohwasa said many organisations had failed in the past due to lack of consultation. He advised the business people to stop their differences because Selebi-Phikwe is under siege. "We must engage each other in all that we do," he said. "If there are any associations existing, they must let us know and invite us to their meetings."
Mohwasa said SPEDU was not a super organisation that would solve all the problems in Selebi-Phikwe. He noted that people must stop spending their time fighting to bring others down. SPEDU will hold other business consultative meetings in Bobonong, Lerala and Mmadinare this month. The agency is tasked with coordinating economic development activities in the Selebi-Phikwe region and to bring local and external stakeholders on board for the purpose.