The Minister of Finance and Development Planning this week refuted suggestions that Lobatse was teetering on the brink to collapse, arguing that the government has no special mechanisms in place to safeguard the old southern town from the envisaged crumble.
However, Baledzi Gaolathe confirmed to parliament: “There is no evidence to indicate that Lobatse will become a ‘ghost town’ and, therefore, government does not have any special dispensation for the town, as is the case with Selebi-Phikwe, whose very existence, as a town, is dependent on the life of the mining operations there.”
Like in all other towns and villages in Botswana, Gaolathe insisted, government and the private sector will continue to promote investment activities in Lobatse, in addition to the existing investments, like Botswana Meat Commission, Can Manufacturers and Lobatse Clay Works.
He said for its part, government continues to play a pivotal role to implement development projects in the town, citing the rehabilitation of roads, land servicing, construction of the new Lobatse Mental Hospital and the construction of a new sports stadium as some of the on-going projects in the town.
“The ministry of trade and industry is also undertaking a countrywide consultancy on the feasibility of establishing economic zones and will undoubtedly include Lobatse, among the locations to be considered,” he further added.
To convince his audience further, the Finance Minister said that he recently met with the mayor of Lobatse who informed him that a task force had been set-up to look at the strategies and possible economic activities that could re-ignite the economy of Lobatse, adding such a move was a “welcome initiative by the leadership of the town as the task force will contribute ideas to both government and the private sector as to what could be done to ensure continued development of Lobatse”.
Lest his area of influence falls prey and degenerate into a ghost town, Lobatse MP, Nehemia Modubule, asked Gaolathe about the activities he intends to put in place to ensure Lobatse does not become a ghost town.
Still in parliament, the Assistant Minister of Health, Gaotlhaetse Matlhaphiri, allayed public fears that the incidents that resulted in patient injuries as reported in the media were not intentional and deliberate, adding that the findings of “these investigations have not revealed any acts of negligence or harmful practices towards patients”.
“All incidents that have resulted in patients’ injuries as recently reported in the media were not out of character with the unfortunate incidents that sometimes occur in the normal course of treating patients with severe psychiatric illness,” he said, arguing that the ministry “has found that all reasonable care and diligence was taken by the attending medical staff in all the reported incidents” and as such was satisfied that a commission of enquiry into these matters is not necessary at this time.
Local media recently carried reports that revealed all was not well at the Lobatse Mental Hospital with mentally disturbed patients allegedly injured deliberately, without care and diligence on the part of the medical staff.
Matlhabaphiri was answering a question from Lobatse MP Modubule.