Botswana: Parties Promise to Re-Open BCL Mine

Selebi Phikwe — The three prospective parliamentary candidates for Selebi Phikwe East focused their debate on the re-opening of the BCL mine.

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary aspirant Mr Kgoberego Nkawana informed residents of Selebi Phikwe during the Radio Botswana debate on September 25 that his party would re-open the BCL mine should it win the general elections billed for October 23.

According to Mr Nkawana, the re-opening of the mine would re-instate 5 000 jobs lost during the mine closure in 2016 as well as more than 5 000 indirect jobs lost when companies that were sub-contracted by the BCL mine closed down.

Mr Nkawana said closure of the BCL mine, which was the economic backbone of the mining town, further crippled the economy of the town and that of the entire SPEDU region.

He said his party would run the mine in partnership with the Russian investors who ran the mine before liquidation, saying that government was not the sole shareholder, rather it was the major shareholder.

Mr Nkawana further said his party would also introduce a living wage of P3 000, adding that such would generate more income for the government as more people would pay tax.

He said the P3 000 living wage would give Batswana more purchasing power and ultimately resuscitate the economy.

In addition, he said his party would also create employment in Selebi Phikwe by re-opening the textile industries.

The ruling BDP parliamentary hopeful Mr Amogelang Mojuta reiterated that the government, which was the sole investor, took the decision to close the mine following a number of accidents in the mine, which led to serious injuries and many casualties.

He said Batswana should also take into cognisance the fact that at the time nickel prices were low, hence the mine was running at a loss for a very long time, adding that the government could not continue pumping money into the BCL.

However, he said the government conducted a feasibility study to find out the possibility of re-opening the mine and the study turned out to show that it was possible to open some parts of the mine.

He said the government was working round the clock looking for potential investors to run the mine, adding that the government was in talks with some investors who had shown interest in the mine.

In addition, he said the mine would have to be rehabilitated to ensure safety of workers.

For his part, Alliance for Progressives (AP) candidate Mr Oarabile Tshenyego said re-opening of the BCL mine was also in the AP manifesto.

He said if voted into power, AP would conduct a research to look for shafts that could be opened, adding that Selebi North shaft was one of the shafts that could be opened.

He said the BCL mine would have not been closed if it did not put all its eggs in one basket, adding that the mine should have invested in other sectors.

The issue of agricultural land at Ralenyeletse lands also dominated the debate.

Mr Nkawana of the UDC said the compensation that was given to people at Ralenyeletse was so little that it did not match the value of the land they were compensated for.

He said it was therefore impossible for them to vacate the land because they had no where to go, calling for those people to be allocated land in Selebi Phikwe, particularly plots whose owners cannot be identified.

Mr Mojuta on the other hand said the BDP was a party that believed in consultation, hence consultation with Ralenyeletse residents was done and an agreement was reached to compensate the people at Ralenyeletse.

He said even though Ralenyeletse occupants did not vacate the land the government followed the right procedure of consulting and compensating them for their land.

Mr Tshenyego reiterated that people at Ralenyeletse and Dikgokong should be allocated land to continue with farming.

Source : BOPA

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