Itekeng ward Councillor, Lesego Kwambala, has ignited a ball of fire with his response to the City of Francistown Mayor, Godisang Radisigo’s Monday speech at the ongoing Full Council session.
The Councillor has brought excitement to Francistown vendors whose cookware, including gas cylinders and gel fuel appliances, were confiscated by the Council two weeks ago following an explosion at the Central Business District (CBD) that left one vendor with serious multiple burn wounds.
In an incident that happened in February, a street vendor plying her trade in front of Ntshe House had to be rushed to Nyangagbwe Referral Hospital with bodily burns after a cooking gel she used to warm food caused an explosion.
The explosion also affected a customer and a vehicle that was parked nearby.
In response, the Council went on a crackdown on street vendors who used gas cylinders to warm food in public places.
Citing the incident in his speech, Mayor Radisigo said while the council remains committed to informal sector facilitation and growth, it is regrettable that some food vendors violate food control statutes, which pose a risk of disasters.
“In such cases, we’ve been forced to confiscate from the informal sector, especially at the bus rank, and subsequently destroy the food through the laid down procedures,” said Radisigo.
The use of the word “disaster” to refer to the CBD incident did not sit well with Kwambala, who retorted that it was just an unfortunate accident that could have happened to anyone anywhere.
He further asked if the council would stop the use of gas cylinders in schools should there be an explosion.
“Your worship, it is unfortunate that we decided to confiscate gas cylinders from the informal sector yet we are the ones who developed guidelines and set requirements for mobile kitchens,” he said.
“Our role should be more facilitative than punitive,” said Kwambala.
The Itekeng ward Councillor went ahead and proposed that all the equipment that was confiscated from the informal sector is returned immediately to the rightful owners.
The councillor further lamented the delay in the completion of the Informal Sector Strategy, which has been a work in progress since 2015.
“This strategy has to be prioritised and be completed in the first quarter of the coming financial year and without fail. If not, we must tell the people of Francistown that we have failed them,” said Kwambala.