UDC President Duma Boko and Secretary General Ndaba Gaolathe
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leadership have called on government to open avenues of national dialogue for stakeholders in order to save the financially riddled BCL from closing its operations.
At a press briefing addressed by the party’s top two; President Duma Boko and Secretary General Ndaba Gaolathe, the latter noted that if no further action is taken, the BCL crisis will lead to economic misery for the ten thousands of people employed and dependent communities.
Gaolathe affirmed that there is a real danger of BCL closure, which will collapse Selibe Phikwe as well as a chance of precipitating a recession of the entire country’s economy despite the fact that the crisis could be averted.
“There is need to forge a national dialogue on BCL and mining in general to lay bare the seriousness of the financial and economic challenges faced by the BCL,” he said.
“We should bring stakeholders together to find robust collective solution and demonstrate that BCL could be an opportunity for the country, not just gloom, if we get it right.”
The UDC former policy chief revealed that the assessment carried by the party indicates that government needs about P6 billion capitalisation to save the mine and re-energise it to be more profitable.
“It does not need to be government equity to finance it, proportion of it can be debt,” he said.
Unbundling the factors which have contributed to the current BCL crisis, Gaolathe pointed out that the government has flouted fundamentals such as appointment of relevant, skilled and competent people in high positions.
“Of course some of the causes like the decline in commodity prices in the international market are beyond our control but we failed to get fundamentals right, which is something that we need to re-look into,” he said.
Gaolathe remarked that it was wrong for government to have had Akolang Tombale presiding over BCL Board because of his track record at Botswana Meat Commission (BMC). BMC is another financially ruined parastatal.
“Government intervention has been ineffectual because of failure to appoint high impact board members, which in turn led to failure to appoint a high impact CEO and management,” he expressed.
“Finding the right people is not a difficult task because we can identify them. We know them. We can sit down and agree that these are people who are knowledgeable. They do not have to be UDC or BDP (Botswana Democratic Party); they just need to be high impact people.”
The Gaborone Bonnington South lawmaker also said if government as a shareholder appoint the right people in the board, who are meritorious in their own right, the rest as far as the CEO, middle management and artisans will fall into place.
Gaolathe also faults government for failing to implement its standards as a policy maker, implementer and regulator by not taking punitive action against those who were found to have acted in an unacceptable manner.
“Government is failing to implement its own safety standards. Investigations are done but no consequences for breach of standards. There is lack of universal standards for various service providers or contractors operating in the same mine,” he noted.
The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) president indicated that the model that BCL is using now is not feasible because of outsourcing majority of operations in the mine. “BCL should find a way of doing its own mining,” he said.
The crisis which has engulfed the state owned mining company is largely due to money owed to the creditors. In April this year, government was able to bail out the mine with P1.1 billion after underwriting a loan from Barclays Bank, with the money expected to go mostly to creditors.
Gaolathe also called on government to re-look the Polaris II strategy because it is going to be very expensive.
“We need to re-prioritise, select few projects and narrow it down so that it is more focused,” he suggested.
He said in order to save the BCL, government should realise that the mine needs major capital injection, mainly equity with long term view, strict finance timing and structuring of terms, not knee-jack reactions.
Gaolathe also raised issues such as revision of workman’s compensations standards for workers, providing tripartite forum for mining sector to partake in collection action such as investigations, implementation of investigations and other forms of negotiations.
Chipping in the presentation, party president, Boko underscored that part of the reason the opposition has not been able to influence policy is because of the attitude of government.
“When we present these views, ministers become defensive because they are thinking that we are criticising them,” he said.
Boko said there is a lot of secrecy in the government which has made it difficult for them as opposition to access necessary information such as the financial statements of the BCL.
Boko said government is in fact failing to acknowledge that it is facing a serious crisis in the BCL.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.