SELEBI-PHIKWE: The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) vice president, Kesitegile Gobotswang has said the way the BCL Mine shutdown was conducted was akin to a crime against humanity, therefore international bodies must take serious action against Botswana.
Speaking at their Selebi-Phikwe rally this week, Gobotswang said the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) would explore the United Nations to see if there is any action that can be taken against the Botswana government. He said many former miners have lost their lives as a result of the abrupt closure and the decision was taken without considering the economic devastation that it would bring.
He said the situation has not only affected Selebi-Phikwe, but also surrounding villages that are experiencing high numbers of students in classrooms as a result of the influx of the former miners’ children being transferred from the town.
He said services were now overstretched in the villages because they were not prepared for the situation. He said even parastatals like Botswana Power Corporation and Water Utilities Corporation have retrenched staff following BCL closure.
“The BCL issue will not just come to an end, the BDP government will have to account for all this. Ian Khama must appear before the International Criminal Court to account and intensive investigations into the BCL and Tati Nickel closures must be carried out,” he said.
He concurred with Selebi-Phikwe West Member of Parliament (MP) Dithapelo Keorapetse that President Mokgweetsi Masisi must come to Selebi-Phikwe to apologise to the community and re-open the Mine. He dismissed reports that unfavourable market prices contributed to the Mine closure.
“We all know that copper and nickel prices fluctuate. Once they are good, you save. It’s a lie that the Mine was ever funded from government’s consolidated fund. We want Masisi to re-open the Mine within 100 days of his presidency,” he said.
Gobotswang also said UDC fully supports investigations into the alleged fraud at the National Petroleum Fund and said they have filed papers through their attorney demanding the repayment of the P250 million to the Fund. He also added that UDC would continue to pursue the Electronic Voting Machine case to the bitter end without any hesitation of the fact that the registration dates for elections have been set. He said they are even prepared to appeal in the event they lose because they want the best for the country.
Keorapetse said Khama was
“Rona re tswetse (We have closed ours),” he said. He cited Anglo American that has announced impressive profits out of copper and nickel probably because many countries in East Africa are moving away from petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles to electric ones, hence copper and nickel being in demand.
“If Masisi is serious he must come here, apologise to ex-Mine employees and re-open the Mine. Reports show that these commodities will continue doing well in the market, but our government on the other hand chose to close the Mine,” he said.
He informed the rally that he asked a question in Parliament to be informed on how much Cabinet approved from the consolidated fund to support BCL since 2002 until its closure, but the response showed that nothing was ever disbursed to BCL Mine. He dismissed explanations that government has been pumping huge sums of money into BCL operations without any profits.
Keorapetse said he was surprised that former president, Khama remarked that he never saw him at his office over the BCL issues, but Keorapetse retorted that he was elected to debate issues in Parliament not at the Office of the President. He said in fact, Khama could have attended parliamentary sessions to hear those debates.
Vain Mamela on the other hand said opposition needed to seriously introspect because the highest numbers that vote for the ruling party were from the northern side of the country yet they were the ones affected by decisions made by the same government. He said they should not expect anything from Masisi because he had BDP DNA.
He added that the ruling government has seen the worst corruption under Khama and said it was only under the former president that a minister can appear before court as an accused in the morning and then back in Parliament in the afternoon as honourable.
“This can only happen in a banana republic. Ministers must step down until they clear their names from (allegations of) corruption. Positions are sacred,” he said.