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Gaborone is a faceless city – report

A revised Gaborone City Development Plan 1997-2021 indicates that urban form and character of Gaborone has generally been perceived as not pleasing nor conducive to vibrant urban living.

This is because Gaborone as a city does not have an established urban design framework to be used and adopted in making the city liveable; functional; and to have a robust urban form and character. Local character has been identified as lacking. Though the radial plan of Central Gaborone gives the city its strongest identity, Gaborone is a sprawling city of walled streets which lacks character. These results in a faceless city, which lacks monuments and landmarks, and ultimately in an illegible city.

There is a conspicuous absence of heritage buildings, monuments and purpose built land marks. Urban block sizes in Gaborone are often excessively large, thus reducing the element of connectivity in the city. The cul-de-sac system has rendered the urban tissue impermeable and urban nodes are not easily linked, often providing poor choice of routes.

In addition, Segoditshane River and the railway line that bifurcate the city impede easy connectivity’s and the railway line further limits easy accessibility into the planned Central Business District CBD. Further, the report indicates that Gaborone displays a strong separation of uses and there are virtually no mixed uses vertically. This often results in the death of central areas after business hours and this is evident in the Main Mall and Government Enclave.

Planning and design of Gaborone urban tissue could not be expected to have anticipated the need to adapt to other uses due to the overemphasis on separate zoning. To revitalise some areas of the city at specific times; there is the need to introduce other uses that may bring activity at odd times. Public places like streets, squares and parks in Gaborone are often bordered by perimeter walls rendering the spaces faceless and unsafe to utilise.

On land use dispositions, stakeholders differed on whether Sebele should be retained as agricultural land or it should be converted to urban use. Some preferred its conversion to urban use because of its proximity to Gaborone and to address the issue of land shortage. Those who favour the retention of Sebele as agricultural land point to the environmental desirability of green areas in the vicinity of urban areas.

In cases like this where there is conflicting views as to what use a land should be put to, other factors such as the principle of best and highest use of land normally applies. In this case, consideration should be given to issues of capacity utilisation, return on investments, and number of beneficiaries as well. A case for utilisation of portions of this land for urban developments is later made in this plan.

Land shortage is still the main issue in Gaborone and attempts by Government to acquire the tribal areas lying around Gaborone has not been fruitful as local communities demand a better deal than what the state is offering. A CBD has been planned and fully serviced but remain largely undeveloped. A number of shopping malls have since sprung up in other parts of the city- Game City, River Walk, Molapo Crossing, West gate Mall and Fairgrounds Mall. This is seen as a contributing factor to the slow pace of developments of the CBD.

There have been a significant number of land use changes from urban use to another in Gaborone. Single family residential to multifamily residential uses accounted for 47% of the changes between 2000 and 2006, and residential to commercial accounted for 22%. This leads to increases in population densities often linked to frequent blockages of sewages pipes and traffic congestion in the areas where major land use changes have taken place, like in the central Gaborone area, without a corresponding upgrade and infrastructure capacities.

The informal sector trading activities are a major concern in Gaborone since they operate in an unregulated and uncontrolled manner which tends to blight the city. They account for a total number of 2883 of which 60% are owned by women and 40% by men. Most of these activities are around residential areas, malls, bus stations and industrial areas. They are an important part of the economy of Gaborone and any attempts to regulate, regularise or assist this sector must seek not to destroy this strength but to enhance it.

The practice of urban agriculture is not given prominence in Gaborone. In the face of inflation and escalating food prices, it is now time for Gaborone as a city to seriously embrace urban agriculture. Farm subdivisions main issues of concern include lack or inadequate coordination between various land owners and developers and failure to set aside land for infrastructure facilities (roads, sewages and electricity), as well as for civic and community activities. Each subdivision is carried out individually, at different times and without any guiding framework or structure plan. Furthermore, those subdivisions taking place up stream of the dam, impact negatively on it.

The proper development, use and management of open spaces in Gaborone city is an issue because of the fact that over 90% of the open spaces in the city have remained undeveloped and ill-managed. This has resulted in the open spaces being unkempt and used as refuse dumping areas by residents, although there is the Gaborone city landscape master plan prepared by GCC which has remained largely unimplemented.

Tourism development activities in the city are at infancy stages despite the potentials that abound in this sector. It can transform the image of the city and make it to the outside world. Gaborone only serves as a transit point for international tourists visiting the major tourism destination sites in the Okavango Delta and Kasane. Gaborone has other potentials to provide diversified tourism products in the areas of theme parks and entertainment; culture and heritage; hotels, events management and conferences, as well as from the 2010 FIFA world cup tournament in neighbouring South Africa.

The CBD plots are lagging behind in their allocations and developments. The general public’s perceptions of the CBD plan is that the CBD is wrongly located (in view of the prevailing site constraints), the plots are expensive, and the developments standards are stringent.
In terms of size and geographical location, Gaborone has no land for future spatial expansion. Its present boundaries are unable to accommodate the ever increasing population and providing for the various land use categories. The situation has led the statutory boundaries between the city, Mogoditshane and Tlokweng being blurred as a result of a contiguous conurbation that has been formed.

There is an imbalance in the distribution of services, infrastructure and investments in Gaborone and its immediate region. This is because Gaborone acts as a pull factor for employment opportunities and investments, hence the bias in favour of Gaborone. This calls for policy initiatives aimed at realising the objectives of the NSP. South East District’s land under its jurisdiction extends to areas within the confines of Gaborone. This poses jurisdictional issues in the areas of provision of services and development control.

At the same time, areas around Gaborone serve as satellites to the city and they are part of the city’s labour and commercial markets. The issue here is whether this trend is desirable as a way of tackling growth management problems facing Gaborone, or should efforts be made to boost the economic and social environments of the satellite villages so that they grow and develop in their own rights without being tied to the city’s apron strings.

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Bangwato regent speaks ‘respect for Dikgosi’

23rd May 2022
Bangwato

Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the Constitution held a meeting in Serowe this week. The meeting was to accord Bangwato, just like other tribes, a platform to give their opinions, contributions and what they think is the horse power and limitations of the current Constitution of Botswana.

Bangwato Regent, Kgosi Serogola Seretse said, he is of the understanding that the Commission has not come for anything apart from getting their opinions on how things could be made better. His contribution was that he solely knows of only two social positions in the world; Dikgosi and Pastors. He said other positions are just benedictions. He further urged that, Batswana should respect God’s ordained protocols such as Dikgosi and Pastors.

Seretse pointed out the importance of acknowledging and appreciating Dikgosi as nation builders. He cautioned and warned that, the Commission should ensure that their dealing with Dikgosi is harmonious. He called for an amendment to be made on the ‘National Order of Precedence’ noting that Dikgosi are put at number 11, but should at least be taken a little higher to number 7.

One resident, Tshepo Moloi while giving his contribution said there must be provisions of Social Justice that ensure equal distribution of resources to all citizens. He said this provision should entail an obligation that all citizen have equal opportunities to different Government Initiatives. Moloi substantiated that, all ‘Presidential Commissions’ be engraved on the Constitution

Alfred Thogolwane who is as well a resident of the biggest village in the Central District, pointed out the need for preservation of the country and resources thereof, saying “it must dawn onto all that, the calabash that fetches water for the family cannot fixed once its broken.”  Another resident, Keikantsemang Sebedi advocated for Polygamous marriage, saying that men should marry as many wives as they please. She said there is no need for any socioeconomic assessment done on men who wish to marry more than one wife.

She advised that, the country should benchmark from the Zezuru culture that does it, with no complexities. On the other hand, Sebedi said that, there must be considerations done on the Old Age Pension. She said people who earned P4000 should not receive the old Age Pension upon their fullness of age.  Forshia Koloi called for amendments on Section 77 and all the provisions that speaks to the subject of Bogosi and the powers infested in them. He said they should be made more detailed and avoid ambiguity in clauses.

Mr Tlhaodi said there must be Land Audits done in the country. Citing an example of the Tati Land as one that should be thoroughly audited. He further advised that, Election Day be put on the Calendar. He said, if it happens that the day be a Saturday, there should be some special dispensation for the 7th Day Adventist Church members to take part in voting without compromising on their day of worship. Tlhaodi added that there must be People’s Complaint Commission in the country.

Speakers emphasized the need for the country to review the exercise of ‘Political Party Funding’. They articulated that lack of funding political parties’ results in political parties resorting to finding funds for themselves. They reiterated that sometimes going to the extent of getting funds through illegal means. Bangwato agreed in one accord that they want the President be tried whilst in office if suspected of any criminal offences. This was revealed in their contributions. They pointed out that, the law should not to wait until the end of their tenure.

For his part, the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission Johnson Motshwarakgole expressed gratitude to the residents of Serowe. He applauded women for their kindness saying it is only them, who always take responsibility for doing things amicably in the society.

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Parliament unveils major shake-up plans & reforms

23rd May 2022
Parliament

Parliament has revealed that it plans to rollout a Community Score Card (CSC) exercise as part of sweeping reforms to its role and mandate among others.

The planed shakeup, along with the rollout of CSC will see creation of new Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Health, HIV&AIDS, Education and Skills Development, Trade and Economic Development, Agriculture, Lands and Housing and Local Governance and Social Welfare.
Parliament informed government ministries and departments that the CSC is a participatory, community based monitoring and evaluation tool that enables citizens to assess the quality of public services and interact with services providers to express their concerns.

According to Parliament, the CSC will assist to inform community members about available services and their entitlements and to solicit their opinions about the accessibility and quality of certain services related to the portfolio committees mentioned.  It said the main objective is for Parliament through identified oversight committees is to conduct a participatory monitoring and evaluating process that puts ownership and responsibility for delivery of services in the hands of both the Government and the service recipients.

“Through scorecards developed around identified sectors and services, communities and implementing departments remain in touch with progress made through the programme delivery cycle and are able to respond timely to bottlenecks,” the National Assembly said.  Some of the measurements and expected outcomes for the rolling out of the CSC include among others, improved monitoring and economic evaluation, to determine the impact of spending, so as to be able to direct resources from where they having the least benefit to those projects and programmes where they will have a larger positive impact.

The National Assembly explained further that this could result in a willingness to close down ineffective programmes and institutions and not to implement projects that do not deliver adequate returns, improved productivity in the public services, especially given the substantial pay increases.

The National Assembly believes that the rolling out of CSC is also expected to result in efficiency savings: many public services and programmes could be delivered more effectively at lower costs, by improving management and accountability, and making use of e-services. “This would yield financial savings that could be used for development programmes or reducing the deficit,” the National Assembly said.

The exercise is also expected to result in “Careful scrutiny of subsidy schemes and termination of those that do not address market failure or assist truly needy Batswana.”  The National Assembly revealed that proposed Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Wellness has been established in accordance with the Standing of National Assembly of Botswana.  It explained that the mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Health and HIV/AIDS.

“There is need to identify reasons for inefficiency and poor outcomes and ensure that health system reform improve productivity and value for money. Key areas of focus for scorecard, availability of drugs, staffing ratios, accessibility of health services, speciality care and services and sexual reproductively health,” the National Assembly said.

Another proposed Committee is on Local Governance and Social Welfare. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary Oversight and Scrutiny over Government Ministries. Departments and Agencies with Portfolio responsibilities in respect of Local Governance and Social Welfare.

“Strategies under NDP 11 to improve outcomes of social uplifment include; diversification of rural economies, development and support of small businesses, provision of social safety nets, eradication of absolute poverty, provision of quality and equitable education and harmonisation of social protection programmes,” said the National Assembly.  It said social nets need to be improved so as to target these most in need (at present some social safety nets benefit many people who are not the most needy, but also miss out some of those who are needy).

“Some social development policies more broadly should also aim to reduce household vulnerability to shocks such as those arising from fluctuations in agriculture, climate change, incomes and employment and improve their ability to handle shocks, thereby building household resilience,” the National Assembly said.

Another Committee established is on Agriculture, Lands and Housing. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Institutions, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

The National Assembly said the average growth rate of the agricultural sector since the beginning of National Development Plan 11 (NDP11) (i.e. during the 2017/2018 and 2018/19 financial years) was 2.5 percent, making it the slowest growing sector of the economy, in line with its historical performance.

“Over the same period, its share of GDP has been stagnant at around 2 percent. The sector also contributes job opportunities for about 80 000 adults. Food security has become paramount since the onset of the corona virus pandemic,” the National Assembly said.  The National Assembly said the Government realises the need to increase food production for products in which Botswana has a cooperative advantage such as beef, grains and other horticulture products.

The Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Development has also been established. One of the mandates of Committee would be to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over government ministries, departments and agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Finance, Development, Trade and Industry.

“The sector is at the core of industrialisation aspirations and strategies for economic development in Botswana. Manufacturing in particular can be the driver of economic growth through technological improvements and innovation,” the National Assembly said. Hence, it said, the development of the sector could also foster export diversification and export led-growth in Botswana while benefitting from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).

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Salbany, Bareetsi threaten to sue DIS

23rd May 2022
Salbany Bareetsi

Two senior members of Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have threatened legal action against Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), it has transpired. The threat is contained in an answering affidavit of Director General of DCEC, Tymon Katlholo in which he is seeking an interdiction from High Court to stop the DIS from accessing investigation files at his office.

After the DIS detained DCEC officials Joao Salbany and Tsholofelo Bareetsi on December 16, 2021, they filed an official complaint against DIS and some officials. They complained about abuse of office by DIS and five officers. Salbany and Bareetsi also complained about unlawful detention by DIS and unlawful dissemination of classified information contrary to Section 44 of Corruption and Economic Crime Act. “The DIS interviews were premised on information divulged during the course of official DCEC work product, that is the Monday media brief meeting,” they wrote.

They further requested leave to institute a civil suit against the DIS and its officers, and invariably the State for inhuman and degrading treatment they suffered and unlawful detention. They also pondered a declaratory seeking a sanction against the DIS and Botswana Police Service (BPS) and clarification of the role of BPS officers seconded to DIS.

“The envisaged suit against BPS and DIS officers and the DIS will inevitably centre on investigations done by the DCEC and the scope of the protection availed to DCEC officers for conduct done in the course and scope of DCEC official duties.” The duo said it was self-evident from the conduct of the DIS officers that there was nothing urgent about the information required by the DIS, justifying their detention at its Sebele facility from 08:30 hours on December 16, 2021 until 02:00 hours on December 17, 2021.

They reasoned that the information required by the DIS could have been obtained by a simple request to DCEC Director General. “What the DIS did was to seek to intimidate officers of the DCEC whom they knew were carrying out investigations against some of the DIS officers who were part of their investigation team. This turn of events has a chilling effect not only on the functioning of the DCEC but also on the official conduct of officers of the DCEC as to how they conduct their official duties.”

They concluded by stating that in the event the request is granted, they would further request to be advised as to the provision of legal representation as the unalwful detention and the degrading and inhuman treatment by the DIS was in relation to matters conducted by and on behalf of the DCEC.

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