Delay of new Francistown CBD sparks suspicion

• Councilors express concerns
• ‘Suspension made though phone call’
•  ‘We want to know who ordered the suspension’


FRANCISTOWN: The suspension of the much-anticipated new Francistown Central Business District (CBD) has sparked suspicions that the Office of the President might have a hand in the decision.
This is after the project that was supposed to be built through Public Private Partnership (PPP) by the Francistown City Council and the identified developer was reportedly mysteriously suspended by the ‘authorities’ who the councilors are fighting to know. Through its vision 2022 the city council reserved the 42-hectare plot next to Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital to build the CBD. In July Francistown Mayor Sylvia Muzila indicated that they had already identified a developer and that the project would soon start as the design and the lay out plan had been approved.
However, recently when the councilors questioned the suspension, the Town Clerk Mompati Seleka struggled to explain who exactly made the order to suspend the project save to say that he only received a call from the highest office ordering the council to stop the much-anticipated development. “This is the council plot that has been reserved for development, so why all of sudden when the development is supposed to start we only learnt about the suspension from grapevine. We tried to find out who exactly made the order but there is no clear answer, what we get is only that the council received a call from the highest office. So, we are wondering if the council received a call from the OP or from the Ministry of Local government and Rural Development. It seems like the business that have been leasing the land is opposing the move and has appealed to the OP. There is no how the OP intervene in the council matter unless these businesses asked for intervention from the OP. So, we want to know the exact authorities who reportedly stopped this project. We cannot be told that the council received a call that ordered the suspension,” lashed out one Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) councilor who did not want to be named for fear of victimization.
This week the Town Clerk indicated that he has been instructed by the Ministry of Local government and Rural Development not to proceed further with development pending policy clarification. Seleka said he only received a call from the Ministry ordering the suspension therefore there was no how he can question the reasons behind. “As the accounting council personnel I had to make sure that the order is effected and that is only what I did. We will be advised further if the development continues or not,” Seleka said in an interview with The Botswana Gazette.
However, he said he was not aware of any objection from lessors of the plot saying that the council has been in consultations with the owners. “The council never received any objection from these people but if its there is any I cannot dispute because maybe it has been raised elsewhere,” noted the Town Clerk.