Saturday, October 23, 2021

Forget about retrenchment packages, BDP MPs tell former BCL employees

The ruling party, Botswana Democratic Change (BDP) Members of Parliament led by the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi on Friday shunned a motion brought to the house by Selebi Phikwe West MP, Dithapelo Keorapetse relating to the compensation of former employees of BCL mine.

The motion which originally read, “That this house requests government to pay former BCL employees retrenchment packages”, was later amended to, “that this house requests government to pay former BCL employees an equivalent of retrenchment package”.

The amendment, as done by Pius Mokgware of Gabane/Mmankgodi was suggested by Minister Prince Maele after there was an agreement in the house that since BCL Limited was liquidated there is no retrenchment package due to the said workers.

During his presentation of the motion, Keorapetse indicated that there is need for the government to pay the former workers as a way of keeping the promise that was by Vice President Masisi at the time of closure of BCL mine.

However, cabinet ministers amongst them Sadique Kebonang, who is responsible for minerals and Kenneth Matambo of Finance and Economic Development disputed the sentiments by Keorapetse suggesting the “promise to pay out as well as issue soft loans” to the former employees.

At the time of voting, 18 Members of Parliament, mainly of the ruling party throw the motion out of the parliamentary gallery adding following their debate that it was “unnecessary and meant to score political points”. On the opposition side, 15 MPs who were in attendance supported the motion saying there is need to show “compassion and humanity” to those who have lost their jobs late last year.

BCL, the oldest mine in the country, which has been the life-blood of over 80 000 people in the township and the surrounding areas of Selebi Phikwe, went down on its knees in October 2016 following a voluntary liquidation.

Soon after the closure, details began to emerge on how government frustrated a plan by the European Union (EU) to ensure the survival of the mining town and surrounding villages.  

According to the EU office in Gaborone, part of the deal was over P600 million worth of projects sponsored through a grant.

“A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between GOB and the European Union Delegation (EUD) governing the use of these funds was signed in January 2011. At the time of the signature of the MoU the REA re-employment account had around 638 million BWP to spend”, read part of a statement issued by EU in October 2016.

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