Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse has dismissed President Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) saying the president should have instead acknowledged that the closure of BCL mine was a mistake on government’s part. According to Keorapetse, SONA was just hopeless arrangement of words and pronouncement of questionable figures.
“SONA offers no hope for the unemployed former BCL workers and people of Phikwe, Khama should have acknowledged that liquidating BCL was a mistake,” he said, citing that its impact on the people and economy is huge.
Keorapetse observed that the government was ill-advised by the Mineral Development Corporation and called for reopening of BCL Mine.
“Government has to accelerate diversification of the town’s economy yes, but in the mean time, P2 billion in recapitalization and restructuring including non core activities and good management, BCL is a profitable venture for the next 7 years or so,’’ he explained.
When delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA) before legislators in Parliament this past Monday, President Khama had, contrary to expert views and specialists’ analysis, said that the closure of BCL mine will not cease billions of national economic activities, saying that the mine closure will in fact have less negative impacts on the country’s economy.
However, Keorapetse, who is also BCP spokesperson, said President Khama did not provide assurance for the people of Phikwe following the trauma of having their lives turned upside down by government’s ill advised decision to shut down the mine.
“Khama doesn’t say what he plans to do with the jobless former workers, people are leaving Phikwe empty handed with banks and other lenders taking a big share of their small terminal benefits, the pitiable benefits are so depressing that some are committing suicide,” he said.
According to Keorapetse, Khama‘s failure to acknowledge the socio-economic impacts of the mine closure proves beyond reasonable doubt how insensitive and his government is. “The President says BCL demise will have no impact on fundamentals of the economy but fails to acknowledge the enormity of the problem, he just glosses over the issue and understates the problem.”
Keorapetse told WeekendPost that it is unclear how Khama intends to create jobs in Phikwe, noting that the President is just ambiguous about revitalizing the economy and has no clear targets and set timeframes and easily assessable progress tracking mechanism.
In his SONA, President Khama also said that government treasury will be less affected by the decision to put the eastern bloc economic nucleus on provisional liquidation.
“We anticipate an overall domestic growth rate of 3.5% for this year and 4.1% in 2017. In this respect, while the liquidation of the BCL Group of companies will continue to have economic and social implications, particularly in the area of employment, it is anticipated that it will have limited direct impact in terms of our exports, Government revenues and overall growth,” President Khama said.
Khama however noted that they shall continue keeping a closer eye on the situation surrounding the dissolution of the former copper nickel giant, “Government shall, nonetheless, continue to closely monitor developments with respect to the BCL liquidation process with the view of updating our macro-economic projections as may be necessary.’’
He however acknowledged that a harsh liquidation aftermath may arise in due time. “The negative effects of the liquidation of the BCL Group may reduce this figures ,its medium to long term impacts on the economic growth , export and government revenue should be manageable,’’ he noted.President Khama further said that Phikwe would not be left to relegate into a ghost town.
“Madam Speaker, a Board for the Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZA) has been appointed and is already engaging a Technical Advisor for the rollout of the zones. Priority is now being given to the development of the mixed use Special Economic Zone at Selibe Phikwe.”
Further emphasizing on the Phikwe revitalization strategy unveiled two weeks back under the coordination of Linah Mhohlo, Khama added that the Phikwe localized diversification vehicle SPEDU has engaged with communities in the Region to resuscitate and support development projects in such areas as piggery, fish farming through co-operatives and development trusts.
“SPEDU is also facilitating the establishment of a Regional Chamber of Commerce and the development of the strategy to incorporate the SMME’s into the mainstream economy in partnership with Business Botswana,” he said.
Khama further revealed that SPEDU is facilitating the allocation of land for the establishment of an air separation plants and an aloe Vera farm and plant. “These businesses are expected to be fully operational before the end of the 2016/17 financial year, while plans to facilitate dam tourism are also underway.”
For his part, Policy Specialist at Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Cultural Development, Lawrence Ookeditse cautioned against implementation failure.
Ookeditse who continues to gain respect in policy crafting and impactful undertakings after pioneering the Job Summit and Youth Business Expo observed that the President should have stated how the issue of poor project implementation and monitoring was going to be different with Phikwe recovery. When responding to the SONA Ookeditse observes, “A chunk of money is allocated to SPEDU, the revitalization strategy is encored on SPEDU undertakings, and the same SPEDU has been there for almost 10 years and they failed dismally,” he said.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.