Former F/town Mayor calls for decentralization
Former Francistown Mayor, Sylvia Muzila is convinced government centralization is to blame for high unemployment and slow economic progress in the second city and across Botswana.
Muzila, who led Ghetto from 2014 to 2019, insisted too much power is based in Gaborone, warning that if every decision concerning the country’s development occurs in the capital, issues with employment and growth will persist.
“For us to achieve an unemployment rate of 6 percent by 2036, there are policies we can look at that can create jobs, such as land planning policy. The private sector should be involved in the drawing of land planning policies and given a larger share, for us to give out ideas and come up with solutions as the private sector,” said Muzila, who runs Tabitha Private Secondary School.
The former Mayor was voicing her concerns at the Ministry of Finance’s Budget Pitso last Thursday, where she was invited as one of the panel speakers representing the private sector. Held at the Civic Centre under the theme ‘Attaining a 6 percent unemployment objective by 2036: Accelerating High Income Status’, the Pitso sought to raise awareness and gather opinions and thoughts on the imminent 2023/24 budget roll out.
Zooming in on the issue of land, Muzila highlighted the difference between tribal land, which is regulated by local landboards, and state land, where all decisions are decided at the ministry.
“Tribal land is booming because it is controlled by locals or people who know the land well. Minister, if you can just go around places in the greater Francistown you will see a lot of development while state land is lagging behind due to centralization,” she said, directing her comments at Finance Minister, Peggy Serame.
“We have serviced land at Gerald Estates which has been left undeveloped for 15 years now; we also have un-serviced state land in Shashe. If land is awarded to the private sector, we may develop it by constructing manufacturing, mining, and agricultural enterprises and creating jobs,” maintained Muzila, who is confident this will help bring down the country’s current unemployment rate, estimated to be around 25 percent.
Another panelist, representing the National Development Bank, Neo Quashie advised government to create jobs by investing in Agriculture, notably Horticulture, as it does not require many mechanisms.
“State-owned entities such as CEDA, LEA, BDC, and others should be transferred to the private sector because it has little input in the Agriculture sector,” said Quashie.