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funds, Thuto Africa, therefore wanted to implement the matter but soliciting land was a ‘headache’ and have therefore withdrawn.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