FRANCISTOWN: The Francistown Christian community has sought court intervention to prevent the Francistown city Council from evicting them.
FCC last year expressed concern that some churches were spoiling the image of the city with their illegal occupation of land saying it chases away investors.
The leadership of the squatting congregations admitted to occupying the land illegally and agreed to move. With only a week before eviction are effected, the churches, led by Former councilor Ignatius Moswaane and Bishop John Maposa through Olatotse Attorneys have challenged the impending move, arguing that it will be illegal for the Council to demolish the churches. The churches argue that the Council cannot take the law into its own hands. “Neither the office of the Town Clerk nor the Mayor may rule by decree. No such exercise can be carried out without a court order sanctioning it,” reads part of their letter to the council.
The churches further contend that FCC and the Christian community have been in continuous dialogue over the issue of availability of land for worship. “Of recent, in a clear display of political will in finding a lasting solution to the problem, the Council adopted a motion in which the Office of the President’s intervention was sought to address issues of shortage of land in Francistown. The matter is being considered by the Office of the President, presumably, in conjunction with the Council as the originator of the idea. Now, the latest developments come as a shock. Why not wait for feedback from OP. We find the decision of the Council not only unfair, but taken in bad faith,” added the letter.
In an interview Moswaane said that the decision is unacceptable because the Council has not allocated land to churches for the past 25 years. “This is why some of the church resorted to squatting especially as the tendering process of land allocation disadvantages our traditional churches which have no money to compete with mainline churches in bids for plots,” Moswaane said.
FCC Mayor, James Kgalajwe and Town Clerk Leboile Israel have however maintained that the evictions will go on. “As the council leadership we are guided by the law. So if we fail to follow the gazetted laws, we run the risk of a backlash in future. Those affected could take us to task,” said the Town Clerk last week.