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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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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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