A total of 754 jobs have been output by the government response strategy in Selibe Phikwe, this follows the closure of BCL mine in 2016. At least 5000 jobs were lost in the region when the copper mine was shut down.
The Ministry of Investment, Trade & Industry revealed early this week that more jobs will be created with time. “The number of jobs created since Mine closure is over 750 and SPEDU continues to come up with initiatives geared towards attracting investment into the region,” MITI minister Bogolo Kenewendo said.
Kenewendo also highlighted that 10 citizen owned companies in Information Technology (IT) and manufacturing have set up shop in the area along with three government projects in Infrastructure Development & Agriculture and three foreign owned companies in Agriculture & Textile. When responding to the number of jobs created and progress made by the tasked stakeholders Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse said that the tangible output of the much needed jobs was not significantly forthcoming.
“Those jobs they are talking about are not even in Phikwe, people are still jobless and roaming the streets of the town,” he said. Keorapetse further noted that the jobs created thus far were informal and exploiting the people in the region. “The jobs SPEDU and the Minister are talking about are shoddy jobs, most of them at the Tuli block and Talana farms with inhuman wages for our people, they are paid around 400 collectively at the end of the month, how do we quantify and qualify that as significant jobs against these much resources consumed by this strategy!” Keorapetse said.
The Phikwe West lawmaker reiterated that there was need to relook the implementation structure of the Phikwe Revitalization strategy, explaining that it was still not clear who does what hence the little progress made. “We still don’t understand the implementation go how of the revitalization strategy as we have many players who are bleeding taxpayers money with duplicate mandates and overlapping tasks,” said Keorapetse.
The Youthful Botswana Congress Party mouthpiece noted in previous interviews that Selibe Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) would serve the people of the Phikwe region if it was operating as an investment company that participated directly in profitable projects with equity investment. “This is because what SPEDU intends to do is exactly what Botswana Investment & Trade Centre (BITC) and more even Special Economic Zones Authority is tasked to do, so if SPEDU was allocated money and equipped with necessary acumen to rigorously embark on mass industrialization and enterprise establishments in the region we could be seeing tangible and meaningful jobs already,” he said.
However, at the Monday Press Conference Minister Kenewendo reiterated that SPEDU will remain an investment wooing vehicle that will work tirelessly to attract both domestic and foreign investment to the region which is rich in tourism and has agricultural potential. Kenewendo noted that Linah Mhohlo, who leads the Selibe Phikwe Revitalization Strategy will carry on with the mandate of coordinating entire efforts from government institutions such as CEDA, Botswana Development Corporation, private sector and the Ministry to ensure effective resuscitation of the town and the region economies. “Yes we have noted that there are some overlaps with the coordinator’s role and the Chief Executive Officer of SEPDU and we are working on those to review and look at these roles,” she said.
Assistant Minister Goya told this publication that his office will see to it that the implementation of the SPEDU revitalization strategy is fast tracked to achieve the desperately needed rebirth of the town and the region. “I will be constantly visiting Phikwe to accelerate and push delivery by our departments and parastatals being LEA, SEDU and CEDA amongst others,” he said. Goya underscored that the ministry will work closely with the local communities of the region to transform and equip their cooperatives and community based business under the SMME development apex.
Chief Executive Officer of the Citizen Entrepreneurship Development, Thabo Thamane revealed that his institution has already invested an excess of 42 million pula in the region on agricultural and manufacturing companies. Bashi Gaetsaloe of Botswana Development Corporation noted that his company has already assisted 6 companies with factory shell at reduced rates, these including textile machinery and metal working companies.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.