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Investors walk away from 400 million pula varsity in Kanye


Kgosikgolo Malope Gaseitsiwe II

Investors have allegedly abandoned an initial proposal to build a university in Kanye village in the Southern District, following a land tussle between them and Bangwaketse Tribal leadership. The technical state-of-the-art university was estimated to cost a whopping 400 million Pula which was already sourced from the European Union and available, Weekend Post learnt.  

The university’s aim was to assist bridge the skills mismatch, boost the economy in the village, create employment and provide practical education by training students on woodwork, welding, tannery (leather), mining, food processing amongst others.

Weekend Post has established that the university investors had wished to construct the institution under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) at a place known as Showgrounds – which was seen as strategic and a central location. The area is closer to amenities such as water and electricity as well as in the heart of the village.

Showgrounds is owned by morafhe and reigning Kgosikgolo Malope Gaseitsiwe II is the custodian. Although the land was supposedly allotted to host the Kanye Agricultural Show, it has been a white elephant for more than 20 years. With regards to the university proposal, Kgosi Malope has been “non-committal” on calling a lebatla to neither solicit advice from morafe nor allocate the land to the proposed university team.

Weekend Post has also gathered that the planned university was a brainchild of some prominent village elders who together with other citizens formed an organization dubbed Thuto Africa precisely for purposes of expediting the idea and securing funds – to fulfill the late Bangwaketse Chief, Kgosikgolo Bathoen Gasitsiwe II’s dreams of seeing the university in Kanye.

Amongst the organisations’ Kanye tribesmen with the vision for a university is former President Sir Ketumile Masire who chairs it, High Court Judge Justice Monametsi Gaongalelwe, and top notch academic Professor Rodgers Molefhi, who all hail from Kanye. Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo and real estate magnate Willy Kathurima are also members of the organisation.  

This has always been the dream and aspiration of the esteemed Bathoen, who held education with high regard and envisioned a university in his village at one point.

Subsequent to securing the funds, Thuto Africa, therefore wanted to implement the matter but soliciting land was a ‘headache’ and have therefore withdrawn.

This publication has also gathered that the organization competed with other African counterparts for the EU funds and still triumphed and have always looked upon Kanye as a strategic planning and developing area for the project.

A high ranking source close to the developments told Weekend Post in an interview this week that “Malope is the custodian of the land which is owned by morafhe, and Thuto Africa, spearheaded by Professor Molefhi found it fit to rightly request for allocation from that authority hoping that he would call a lebatla for morafhe to deliberate on and advise accordingly – but although surrounded by a pool of advisors he was even not promising on freeing the land.”

This publication understands that the Show committee responsible for the Showground was also consulted on the matter and was “prepared” to relinquish the land “since it is currently not being utilized and has been a white elephant for more than 20 years and still counting”.

Show committee’s position with regards to Showgrounds

When reached for comment, Show committee Chairman, Richard Tshitlho, confirmed that Thuto Africa, chaired by former President Masire and Professor Molefhi as the Secretary indeed approached and consulted them that they need the land for constructing the university under PPP arrangement.

According to Tshitlho if they had their way they would release the land for the school as they believe it will widely benefit the village.

“We thought that since they are speaking of a university we could engage them as it will boost the informal sector, create employment and uplift the level of education in Kanye and by extension the country,” Tshitlho highlighted.

While investors thought the central position that is ideal is show ground and taking into consideration that it is not even utilized, Tshitlho submitted that others feel it still can be built on the outskirts of the village but at the same time worried that the location will be far from students especially those sponsoring themselves.

If the great opportunity of building a university in Kanye, for whatever reasons, does not come to pass Tshitlho highlighted that the consequences will be that developments will lag behind and the place may remain rural without buildings attracting more investors further. “We will remain stagnant, there will be no employment creation, no accommodation business opportunities, and no uplifting of the economy of the informal sector as well as local transport industry.”

The Show committee Chairman also pointed out that they were advised by The Low Level Local Consultation Committee and it posits that it is useless for the Showground land to keep idling but instead they can loan it to some people to utilize it under PPP like Southern District Council (SDC) did with Mongala mall previously.

“We also thought there could be thorough consultations with Southern District Commissioner, (SDC) Council Secretary and Ngwaketse Landboard Secretary to discuss the issue with them further so they advise accordingly.”

Meanwhile he also said they met Malope on the matter. “We went to Kgosi Malope to meet him on the issue,” he pointed out while adding that they had wanted Malope to consult morafe on the matter. “Right now Kgosi don’t want to call morafhe as he feels the strategy may not work.”

District Commissioner, SDC Council Secretary have their say

District Commissioner Mmoloki Raletobane also re-affirmed that the land belongs to morafhe and the Kgosi is the custodian. “He holds it on behalf of the community but it is that morafhe that can guide him on how best to utilize it,” he stated.

As DC, he said any development that is in the interest of government and in line with community, and also not breaking any law “we can give it a nod” while emphasizing that their job is to advise what is simply in the interest of government.

He however said he was not officially approached on the matter of the university but got winds of it being proposed to be built at Showground. “I just know there is a Showgrounds which they want.”

On his part, Council Secretary Mompati Seleka said he is aware of the move, and while they have not contacted his office, he gathers that some village elders came up with the university proposal to be erected at Showgrounds but were facing some resistance from certain quarters of the community.

He stressed that they could have approached them because as Council they are the planning authority and everything has to pass by them.  “When people want to start something like this, they engage us as a Council facility as we would assist them accordingly. We would facilitate the process with regulations to make them accommodative,” he stressed.

Kgosikgolo Malope II was not able to provide this publication with a comment on the matter when contacted this week. “I am sorry I cannot comment on that university proposal issue,” he said.

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