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A recent announcement by Hon Eric Molale, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, purports to convey the decision by Government, to resume operations of the BCL. The announcement carries no detail on the shareholding configuration, feasibility, quantum of investment, extent of personnel involvement or operational model in general. For this reason, we find it premature to deliberate on such a decision. However, the announcement arouses a public discourse to which the AP seeks to contribute, in fulfillment of our conviction of cultivating a path towards a transformed economy in which the broad majority of our people are active participants.
One of the serious deficiencies of our Governance system is the opaque separation of powers among the three arms that form our Government, which opaqueness lends excessive power to the Executive branch of our government system. In this regard, we hope that the current Government realizes that the “decision” to re-open BCL can only be a proposal until approval by the Legislature. In a proper democracy the role of the Executive is to advance to Parliament, proposals on major public policy issues. In a democratic system, the Executive should by now have submitted proposals to various Committees of Parliament including the Finance and Estimates Committee, and the Trade and Economic development Committee. In a functioning democracy these are the committees that should be considering these proposals before final consideration by Parliament. We therefore expect Government to submit these proposals to Parliament for appropriate scrutiny and advisory.
On 3 March 2017, our legislator, Ndaba Gaolathe, submitted to both the Minister of Finance and then Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, a letter and draft bill on the revitalization of the BCL mine and Selibe Phikwe area for their consideration. Over and above the letter and the bill, he shared a presentation entitled “THE LOOMING BCL COLLAPSE CAN BE AVOIDED” which identified the need for a well thought through capital structure, and timing of funding. There has not been any response since, and we call on the Government to consider at least some of the proposals on how both the mining and non-mining life of the Selibe Phikwe and Francistown areas can be revitalized.
The Government of Botswana should be aware of the loss of public confidence in the decision making processes around the BCL. The manner of the BCL’s closure and the attitude with which the Government authorities ignored or sidestepped valuable advise emanating from various stakeholders (on how to avoid the collapse of the BCL) is still a fresh memory, and we therefore call on the Executive to demonstrate good faith by introducing a transparent process leading to the feasible re-opening of the BCL.
*Phenyo Butale (PhD) is Secretary General - AP