Former Bank of Botswana Governor, Ms Linah Mohohlo who was recently appointed Coordinator of the Selibe Phikwe Revitalization Project has vowed that she has the acumen to indulge Bill Gates to inject hope back to Selibe Phikwe, should the need arise.
Mohohlo was unveiled during the African Industrialization Day commemorations on Tuesday in Selibe Phikwe by the Minister Investment Trade & Industry, Vincent Seretse. The Ministry of Investment Trade & Industry’s Phikwe Economic Revitalization Strategy (ERS) coordinated by former Bank of Botswana Governor, was also unveiled during the commemorations.
According to the strategy, precisely 6 856 jobs will be created in the next 24 months in Selibi Phikwe, WeekendPost has learnt. The jobs, it was revealed on Tuesday in the distressed town, will be a result of a P1.8 billion worth of 20 specific businesses that are to set up shop in eastern town.
SHOCK ABSORBING INTERVATIONS The liquidation of BCL mine resulted in 4000 miners losing their jobs three weeks ago, and Government as a result has put in place short term remise to ease the effects of the job losses on the former miners. P11 million has been set aside for one full year to pay school fees for children of former BCL employees, Minister of Investment Trade & Industry (MITI) Vincent Seretse revealed on Tuesday.
According to Seretse, the Ministry of Basic Education (MBE) has been mandated with facilitating the undertaking, “Government has committed to continue paying school fees for children of former BCL employees for one year, that is 2017, The office of the Coordinator, District Commissioner and MBE are already working out details to implement this decision,’’ he said.
The Minister further noted that the Ministry of Health and Wellness has taken over medical expenses which were borne by BCL of which the estimated cost is about P15 million. “For Social Support and counselling services government will ensure availability of senior level officers in Selibe Phikwe to assist former BCL employees,” concluded Seretse.
For their part government investment arm, the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) told attendants that all BCL direct contractors who borrowed capital from the agency will be exempted from paying monthly instalments for a period until liquidation process is completed next year. “In our efforts to keep our funded businesses which depended on BCL to keep surviving, we will give them a period of four months from now without compulsory payment of our agreed monthly instalments,’’ explained CEDA Chief Executive Officer, Thabo Thamane, who also conceded that this decision would negatively affect them.
According to the government subsidized lender, talks are at a final stage with Botswana’s largest private sector employer, Debswana to absorb some of the companies that are in line with its business. “Debswana has showed willingness to contract some of our funded companies who did business with BCL at their Jwaneng and Orapa mines. This will go a long way in ensuring their survival and consequently paying back the loaned capital in order for us (CEDA) to re-invest here in Phikwe,’’ he said.
THE REVITALISATION STRATEGY Speaking to the Strategy, Minister Seretse said it will run for two years and it includes projects categorized into agricultural production and processing, tourism and related services as well as manufacturing. “At least 20 specific projects at an estimated cost of P1.8 billion pula will be implemented over a period of 24 months creating 6856 jobs,’’ he indicated.
Seretse further noted that to equip and resource that strategy and ease of doing business, government investment and trade experts, Botswana Investment & Trade Centre (BITC) has deployed Director –Export Promotion and has since arrived in Phikwe as of last week. For her part, the Permanent Secretary at MITI, Ms Peggy Serame said that projects that are to be used to bring Selibe Phikwe to economic life include, revival of the textile industry which is expected to hire over 2000 people during the first quarter of 2017; renewable power generation; assembling of components including vehicle parts; equipment and machinery manufacturing which are all expected to hire thousands of people.
“We are hoping there will be success this time around for the textile industry, we also expect a number of citizen owned ICT businesses to set up their assembly plants here,’’ she said. Serame hinted that citizen owned companies; Almaz (PTY) LTD and Ditec Mobile would be setting up assembly plants in Phikwe.
RIGOROUS INDUSTRIALIZATION Ditec Founder and Chief Executive, Justice Williams told this publication that his team of technicians are already in Selibe Phikwe to conclude logistics prior to commencement of the process of relocating to the town. “We have already identified a warehouse and for a period from now until first quarter of 2017 we will be redesigning the warehouse into a world-class ICT lab that produces high technological devices,” he said.
“We are looking at employing about 200 people at the 1st phase of actually manufacturing and engineering the technology smart components and phase 2 which includes programming of the components which will probably require an extra 300 personnel.” Consequently, according to Williams, Ditec will employ at least 2000 people.
For their part, newly launched citizen owned Microsoft computer producer, Almaz told WeekendPost that they are still in talks with the government regarding issues of logistics and warehouse and tax incentives. “Our setup of business here depends on the outcome of our discussions with the Ministry of Investment Trade & Industry,’’ said Louis Sibanda, an Executive at Almaz.
Sibanda further said after finalization of talks with the government, setting up a plant in Selibe Phikwe would take 37 days and employing just over 100 employees at first production. “We will re-skill and retool our employees, that is to say former miners from BCL without or with little knowledge of computer and software engineering will be put to training to capacitate them hence they will be not left out as far as working for us is concerned.”
The Mayor of Selibe Phikwe, Amogelang Mojuta expressed delight at the developments and also revealed that his office is facilitating a multimillion pula investment which will create more jobs in Phikwe. “Just last week I was with some South African gentlemen who want to open an aviation school here. They also want to upgrade the airport to international standards and further venture into distribution of goods and services into other parts of the southern Africa region.’’
686 MILLION PULA FOR SPEDU Of the P1.8 billion worth of business to be injected into Phikwe, Selibe Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU)’s treasury will account for over 600 million pula, courtesy of European Union’s re-employment fund, permanent secretary, Serame revealed. This is in spite of commotion prevailing at the diversification vehicle, just last week; it lost its Communications & Corporate Affairs Manager Punah Molebatsi who resigned out of the blue. WeekendPost has it on good authority that the Human Resource manager has been suspended and will possibly be axed.
However the newly branded and revived SPEDU is not just about talk, Chief Executive Dr Mokubung Mokubung revealed to this publication. “Now we are no longer about economic diversification, we are transforming Selibe Phikwe into a major industrial city in Southern Africa, with value chain business opportunities and diverse nature of businesses , next week we will be groundbreaking the electrification of yet more farms in Bobonong,’’ he said.
Information gathered by this publication further suggests that SPEDU is working on a possible partnership with Barclays Bank of Botswana, who early this year loaned BCL 1 billion Pula on government guarantee. Sources present at a meeting between SPEDU executives and Barclays Bank Managing Director, Reinette Van de Merwe revealed that the multibillion pula private lender is committed to injecting more money into Selibe Phikwe as they are prepared to finance serious and viable projects.
“Yes we met Barclays Bank officials, but I’m not in a position to disclose anything as we are still doing paperwork to quantify how much partnership we are talking about and we will inform the public in due time,’’ said Mokubung.
THE OFFICE OF THE COORDINATOR President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama’s recent appointee, former Governor Bank of Botswana Linah Mohohlo was finally introduced to the Selibe Phikwe residents and the business community on the same day by Minister Seretse. Seretse explained that Mhohlo will be overseeing the implementation of the SPEDU Revitalization Strategy and its communication plan. “I am certain in the coming month she will have specific engagements with the various stakeholders in the region.’’
For her part Mohohlo noted that her job will depend entirely on the cooperation and collective efforts from the Phikwe residents, business community and all stakeholders. According to Mohohlo, Selibe Phikwe has the potential to create more than 7000 jobs. “We can go as far as bringing world’s richest here. I have the acumen to indulge Bill Gates and his schedule permitting, he is very active on issues of injecting hope to lost parameters,’’ she said.
Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.
Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”
Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”
The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.
“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.
Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.
Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.
Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.
Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”
In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”
Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.
“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.
Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.
Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.
He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”
Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.
“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.
One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.
A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.
Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.
A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.”
Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.