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Someone should be held accountable for BCL mess

The closure of the Tati Nickel Mining Company and BCL Mine at the end of last year was met with resistance from stakeholders such as the Botswana Mine Workers Union.

The trade union opposed the closure of BCL on grounds that the mine had potential but that it was poorly managed.

Their arguments were ignored because it was apparent that the sole shareholder in the company, Botswana government had long made the decision to stop BCL operations.

This was after the government had pumped in billions of pula and acting as a surety for other companies to supply BCL with whatever the company needed in the form of services, goods, and even fuel to keep the machines running. Now, 12 months after the BCL closure, details of how the mine was managed are beginning to emerge. At this week’s creditors’ meeting, which former BCL board of directors failed to attend, creditors had the opportunity to share their experiences with the liquidator and the government on events leading to the closure of the mine.

This mine has a debt of P2.2 billion in addition to a claim of P3 billion demanded by Norilsk, the Russian company that had a stake in the mine. Despite pumping lots of money into the mine, it has emerged that government did not put in place monitoring mechanisms to ensure good corporate governance, accountability and prevention of looting.

This closure has a not only affected the former employees of BCL but the entire economy that has seen growth projections going down. BCL is a good example

of bad governance that usually finds home in state owned entities that continue to swallow the taxpayer’s money.

The Water Utilities Corporation, Botswana Development Corporation, Botswana Power Corporation and Botswana Railways are some of the state enterprises that have not performed to the satisfaction of the investor - the government - which commits the national resources.

As it stands, it is becoming evident that someone neglected their job and our position is very clear that they have to face the wrath of the law. We are saying this against a background of what normally transpires in other countries in the region and beyond, when large corporations the size of BCL just collapse.

The liquidator has done his part and has made findings that there was a lot of malpractices. He has also made recommendations that some individuals should be prosecuted. What needs to be done is to engage investigators who should apply their skills to identify the offences, close all loopholes and press charges.

BCL is too important to just disappear without a trace like the tragedy in the likes of Palapye BDC Fengyue glass project and BMC feedlot scam, all which cost the taxpayer over a billion pula. We also need tough prosecutors who will not make any compromises before securing a conviction.

Today’s thought

"Every person should be held accountable for their actions "


- President Ian Khama


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