FRANCISTOWN: Francistown's Vision 2022, a bold economic revitalisation plan that had been designed to turn Francistown into an investment destination of choice in Southern Africa, is no more.
Sometimes in 2013, the Francistown City Council (FCC) came up what appeared to be a bold economic revitalisation plan that became to be known as the Vision 2022.
The main purpose of the Vision was to propel the city towards becoming one the best investment destinations in the southern African region.
Immediately after the Vision was launched, the council established the Francistown Investment Company (FIC).
The FIC was established with a sole mandate of turning the Vision 2022 into a reality.
Later in 2016, a Board to lead FIC made of two councillors, Lesego Kwambala and Cornelius Gopolang, the immediate former city clerk Mompati Seleka, Gadzani Makopola as a community representative, and the then Business Botswana’s northern regional manager, Keabetswe Bogatsu, was set up.
The city clerk was to head the Board.
However, Mmegi has established that the Board is yet to meet since the company was established more than a year ago. In fact, insiders at the city council have revealed that the company would mostly likely never be functional owing to some factors.
Yesterday, Business Botswana northern regional manager, Eileen van der Est confirmed that no Board meeting has been organised since the formation of the FIC.
Itekeng ward councillor, Kwambala also stated that he has never been invited to any meeting since his appointment to the company board.
Both Kwambala and van der Est said that they were not privy to why the company was yet to take off, or why the board is yet to meet.
In fact, a few people close to the board have noted that the company was always doomed to fail from the start.
“The thinking amongst council officials, including Seleka who has since left the FCC, has always been that when FIC was established, there was no robust framework for further action.
"The issue of sustainability was seriously overlooked when the council took a decision to establish the company,” said one insider.
Francistown councillors were amongst those who strongly backed the establishment of the company.
“There was no sustainability plan for the company. Only P1 millon was allocated for the company.
Out of that, P500,000 was taken to conduct the Environmental Impact Assessment at the Golf Course plot.
“The balance was to
With such amount of money, the company was not going to be sustainable. The council could also not run the company with the taxpayers’ money,” said another reputable insider.
Seleka and other senior council officials also reportedly felt that running the company was not the mandate of the city council.
“They felt that the mandate of the council is to improve the ease of doing business for the private sector in the city to thrive not directly doing business.
That is why the city clerk and council officers never really felt the need to pursue the idea to fully establish the FIC,” said one insider at the council.
Even the mayor, Sylvia Muzila was this week in the dark about the status of the FIC because, in her own words, she is not part of the Board. She instead referred all enquiries to the city clerk.
But Seleka told Mmegi that he could not comment because he has since left the FCC. “They have a new town clerk who is the accounting officer. He is best placed to comment,” said Seleka.
The council spokesperson, Mandla Hlabano said the FCC could not offer an immediate answer to Mmegi’s enquiry regarding the status of the FIC because the company is still undergoing a leadership transition period.
Meanwhile, the FCC’s Vision 2022 was recently tossed into further ignominy following revelations that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, has stopped the council’s plans to develop the golf course plot through a Public Private Partnership model.
The envisaged development at the vast golf course plot, adjacent Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital, was seen as one of the key initiatives that could help the FCC deliver the Vision 2022.
Early last year, China Civil Engineering Construction (CCEC) and Bothakga Burrow were selected to design, service and turn the golf course into a new state-of-the-art CBD. The two companies were to manage the new CBD.
Francistown councillors recently resolved that the council should go on with plans to engage Bothakga and CCEC to develop the plot.
It remains to be seen if the council officials will implement their resolution.