Mmegi Blogs :: Parley should demand more answers on BCL liquidation
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Last Updated
Friday 20 July 2018, 14:06 pm.
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Parley should demand more answers on BCL liquidation

The government lied to the people Selebi-Phikwe and Botswana about the real reasons for the closure of the BCL mine. The mine is now under provisional liquidation and the matter is returnable to Court on February 7 whereat anyone with locus standi may argue why the rule nisi cannot be made final.
By Dithapelo Keorapetse Fri 20 Jan 2017, 14:28 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Parley should demand more answers on BCL liquidation








The liquidator has made it clear that the three companies were “fatally insolvent” and will recommend final liquidation. Some of the lies told were that the mine is deep and therefore dangerous and expensive to mine and that the resources were depleted.

We all know that the deepest shaft is 1540 meter level as opposed to over 3000 plus meter lever of other mines elsewhere and that the resource statement contradicts reports that the ore is depleted. Batswana and Phikwe residents were told that Norilsk is owed over P3 billion, however, this is disputed by the same government that the company is not a creditor and has no right to enforce. It was said that the government has been pumping in money into the mine for 37 years; something which facts from BCL documents show is not true. The government refuses to talk about the $4 per Pound Recovery Plan for BCL prior to liquidation. Further and very profound, there is refusal to talk about BCL exploration projects; the company had discovered diamonds through its exploration ventures and there is secrecy and conspiracies about the future of these resources. There are reports that some people want to steal these diamonds.

The disheartening thing to note about the government dishonesty is that they are not fearful to dice with people’s emotions. There was a promise to the employees of BCL just after the decision to liquidate was taken, that the government will pay workers 12-18 months, this was said by ministers knowing that they were lying. BCL employees were last paid their salaries in October 2016. Many have been paid one month salary notice. Why did the government as a shareholder and a body responsible for the people’s wellbeing fail to pay retrenchment packages to former BCL workers? The government through ministers and the President of the Republic promised that they will pay utilities such as water and electricity bills; however, former employees occupying BCL houses have been summoned by Water Utilities Corporation with threats of disconnections. As for power, they are buying it for themselves with no assistance.

It was promised that the mine hospital will be open to assist former employees until November 2017, again it was a lie as no mine hospital is open and accessible by former employees. Patients who were scheduled for medical procedures at Gaborone Private Hospital, Bokamoso and other private facilities either because of injuries sustained at the mine or occupational diseases have been abandoned; they are expected to cue at government hospitals like everybody regardless of the promises by the government and

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notwithstanding how they got sick. Former miners with occupational conditions have been informed that they will not be compensated although they have letters stating that they will be compensated.

The parents with school going children at Morula, Mout Pleasant and Kopano Primary schools were reassured by the government that it will pay for their children’s education. No payment has been made to any of these schools by the government. Parents who lost their jobs and were effectively not paid a thing are expected to pay school fees no later than end of January by the school authorities. No communication has been formally conveyed to the parents or the school by the government on this matter since the promise. It is also surprising that the promise, albeit unfulfilled, was made in respect of private schools, even though government schools also levy some significant amount of money from parents. Why was this set of parents left out in the promise? What residents of Phikwe and former employees of BCL and other companies which were affected by the liquidation are asking for is honesty; the truth and nothing else but the whole truth. This litany of unfulfilled promises presupposes that the government is not only uncaring but also very disrespectful to the people. Why, for instance, has the President not checked on the people of Selebi-Phikwe? Where has he gotten the time to go around other small settlements to distribute food hampers, soup, bread and paraphernalia when he never got the time to visit Phikwe residents? Is that the conduct of a caring, concerned and empathetic President?

Up to now, there seems to be no plans to do a socio-economic impact assessment on Phikwe to establish the extent to which the BCL closure has affected the town and the people. Some people have committed suicides; others have resorted to excessive drinking and drug abuse whilst others are simply depressed and devastated. Some former employees and their families who had enrolled for ARV programme at the BCL mine hospital are shocked to learn that they have to cue where all and sundry would know that they are on ARVs.

This is a shock to them as they have never experienced such exposure in a country where stigma associated with HIV/AIDS is still a big issue. Some may default and die as a result. Assessments on socio-economic impact and demographics are therefore necessary for some of these reasons. Parliament has to ensure that the government accounts fully for all their promises; it should ask why there are failures to fulfil many promises.

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