Publishing Date : 15 January, 2019

Author :

1. The above captioned matter bears substantive reference.

2. I write on behalf of former BCL employees, Phikwe residents in general and Phikwe West constituents in particular. I’ve written a letter to the President of the Republic titled “the Town of Selibe-Phikwe and BCL Mine Reopening issues” dated 21st August 2018, the same hasn’t been replied by Office of the President. Please also refer to that letter.  

3. I’ve raised this issue in various Parliament debates, questions, themes and motions and Bills (e.g. Appropriation Bills).

4. You are fully appraised on BCL liquidation issues and I assume you’ve all the details, I will therefore not belabor the point.

5. I have raised the following complaints about BCL and equally offered solutions:

5.1. That the mine shouldn’t have been closed/operations ceased and placed under liquidation, it ought to have been restructured and recapitalized or put under judicial management and that it should be open forthwith in light of the rising copper and nickel prices in the international market.

5.2. That former BCL employees should have been paid adequate compensation equivalent to at least retrenchment packages to deal with their abrupt loss of Jobs and consequent socio-economic upset.

5.3. That the liquidation process only serves to extract from the taxpayer with no clear and tangible returns, that I’ve received worrying Care and Maintenance reports suggesting that the nation’s assets at BCL are not properly taken cared for e.g. reports of shafts flooding, problems with lighting or electricity and air circulation and or occupational health and safety concerns. I’ve suggested immediate removal of the BCL Liquidator and the transfer of Care and Maintenance into a government entity set up for same or an already existing public vehicle such as MDCB. I was also informed, in part by you, that the Director of Mines has invoked his powers under the Mine, Quarries, Works and Machinery Act to intervene and that there wasn’t cooperation from the liquidator.

5.4. That Government should not evict former BCL employees residing in the mine houses until the mine reopens and that government should ensure that the liquidator doesn’t effect evictions. The ex-miners have petitioned your government through the District Commissioner’s Office in Phikwe on their desire to continue staying in BCL houses.

6. You’ve told Parliament that the relationship between your government and the liquidator has broken down irretrievably, you’ve implicitly and explicitly stated that the liquidator has been uncooperative, deceptive, unreasonable and hasn’t taken proper and adequate care of the mine assets and that you have initiated a process through the Attorney General to have him legally removed.

7. I have informed you through our verbal, telephonic and Whatsaap communication as well as our Parliamentary exchanges that the Liquidator has written letters to former BCL employees residing in the company houses informing them that end of January 2019 the House leases will expire or terminate, that they will have to vacate the houses and that those wishing to continue staying beyond the lease expiry will have to pay rent. Some former miners have vacated the houses to avert a catastrophe of abrupt evictions.

7.1. You and I agreed in principle that the aforementioned scenario proposed by the liquidator is untenable and undesirable.

7.2. The Liquidator has informed me that government hasn’t paid rent for former miners or words to that effect, that the agreement with government on the former miners stay is supposed to be financially supported by the government.

7.3. The liquidator alleges serious financial sabotage by your office in what he describes as a systematic refusal to fund ex-miners’ stay in BCL houses, he views this posture by your government as a ploy to frustrate him out of his job he is assigned by the High Court on your recommendation.

8. The undesirable results of the Liquidator’s housing decree taking effect are most likely to be inter alia:

8.1. It will result in mass exodus of people from the town of Selebi-Phikwe, consequently the Town will be desolate and or become a ghost town. This will exacerbate the already degraded socio-economic conditions.

8.2. The vacant houses will be vandalized, valuables stolen from the properties and will undoubtedly become havens for criminals, the Town will become too dangerous.

8.3.  It has become clear from the Liquidator that institutions such as BDF, Police, SPTC, government departments and other possible group and individual tenants may not occupy the BCL houses because anytime an investor may buy the mine and operate it and need the houses thereby disrupting whoever is staying in these houses. It would appear that this is what deters institutions and individuals from occupying these residential properties. No one seems to be ready to sign a lease that states “you can be removed any day if the need arises”. This therefore means the houses are likely to be vacant with no new tenants following the execution of the liquidator’s order.

8.4. The list of rental prices for BCL residential properties was circulated by the liquidator and clearly they are exorbitant by both Botswana and Phikwe standards. The feedback to the MPs office is that these prices are exorbitantly unaffordable to many Batswana and institutions of government.

8.5. Some houses have been vacant from the day the mine closed, some have been vandalized and are getting dilapidated. What would happen if more houses become vacant? More are becoming vacant daily.

8.6. The disruption on the teaching and learning will be enormous; learners will have to be transferred en masse with deleterious consequences.

8.7. Public Health repercussions cannot be discounted; patients on various treatments for chronic conditions and diseases, former miners who are being treated for injuries, the environmental health and other health related issues are anticipated.

8.8. There is likely to be demographic distortions or upsets if the housing decree is effected. 

9. I pleaded, I’m pleading and will continue to plead with your good Ministry to intervene in this matter by:

9.1. Preventing the liquidator from executing his eviction of former BCL employees from the houses and or rescinding his decision to terminate leases and or levy rent from the former miners. This can be done in different ways; negotiating with the liquidator whilst his removal is being pursued in Court; or moving an urgent application arguing that the eviction will result in the decline of the property value and or that it is not a prudent decision as far as safeguarding the properties is concerned; or by expediting the firing of the liquidator and transferring the assets to a government entity as I have suggested. Alternative relief can be sought in Court with similar objectives.

9.2. Please Find a way of making sure that the already vacant houses are occupied to safeguard their value and or status.

10. I plead with you to end BCL liquidation by transferring care and maintenance into a government entity and to forthwith work on reopening of the mine for job creation and resuscitation of the town’s economy.

10.1. The liquidator estimates the environment liability (rehabilitation) to be around P 2.8 billion. I suggest that the government set up a BCL Environmental Rehabilitation Liability Trust and put the above stated amount in it for same, royalties and taxes at the agreed amount should also go into this trust, this will serve as an incentive for investors...i.e. investors are deterred by this exorbitant rehabilitation liability which renders them unable to buy and operate the mine.

10.2. The government should provide other incentives to lure investors.

10.3 Copper and Nickel are selling at high prices in the international market, predictions by market observers are good primarily because of the advent of electric and hybrid cars, construction in China and other demands elsewhere. That’s why the reopening is imperative.

11. Please treat this mater as urgent. Your cooperation will be appreciated. Sir I am available for a meeting to discuss this important matter at your convenience.

Yours faithfully
Dithapelo Lefoko Keorapetse
MP, Selebi-Phikwe West




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