Member of Parliament for the South East South Constituency, Odirile Motlhale, has serious reservations regarding the relocation of the Diamond Trading Company from London to Gaborone.
To this end, Motlhale intends, as parliament resumes business next month, to table a motion requesting it to resolve that the Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources urgently┬áappoints a Special Committee on the relocation of the Diamond Trading Company from London to Gaborone.
That committee, according to him, will advise parliament on time frames, the number of jobs that will be created and the benefits the country will derive as a result of the relocation, among other things.
He wants the committee to advice on any potential legislative and administrative bottlenecks that may arise and further that such a Special Committee shares with stakeholders information on possible business opportunities with a view to ensuring that the nation gets maximum economic benefit from the relocation.
His worry stems from Botswana’s readiness in terms of its incomplete airport infrastructure, the lack of enabling legislation to allow wealthy investors whose wish may be to be in possession of fire arms to protect their businesses as well as the state of the property market to accommodate varying property tastes by prospective investors.
“My point of departure is that Batswana may lose an opportunity as happened with the 2010 World Cup where we sat with incomplete stadia and failed to attract teams. For a start, we do not know how many companies are coming to Botswana as a result of the relocation. Are the companies that are willing to relocate to Botswana going to use the DTC building? It is imperative that this information is shared with Batswana,” Motlhale told the Sunday Standard on Friday.
He said that without any readily available answers to the concerns he is raising, Botswana may find herself losing out on the DTC relocation just like the country did during the World Cup staged by neighbouring South Africa.
“The idea is for Batswana to derive maximum benefit from the relocation. Information as to how Batswana will benefit must be availed and shared with the public,” said the MP.
The DTC has been registered and trading in London for more than 80 years.
“The thinking of relocating it [DTC] to Botswana brings radical changes to the mindsets of the European Union economy authorities. The same wind should blow in the mindsets of Batswana.
Unfortunately this is not the case and understandably so because the manner in which this matter has been presented to the nation and the secrecy that continues to cloud the whole project remains rife,” he proffers.
Motlhale said that parliament has an obligation to ensure that the relocation of DTC from London to Botswana is transparent.
In 2008, DTC did publicly proclaim that it shall have employed 800 people in Botswana by the end of 2009.
“It is now 2012 and we are yet to experience any winds of change in the economy and or employment landscape. This is of concern as this appears to be more of a public relations exercise than a reality to be attained. The Special Committee shall also, amongst other things, breakdown such holistic figures as the 800 employment target given by DTC to clarify how many Batswana will be part of the said 800 figure,” said the legislator.
┬áMotlhale cautions parliament to keep in mind that the primary reason for relocating DTC from London to Gaborone “has and remains to create wealth for the country Botswana and its people”.
“Such wealth can only be created meaningfully if we are to use the diamond industry as our foundation of wealth yet concentrate also on diversification. The sister economic links of diamonds, such as the tourism sector, need ideal figures of families that will be relocating from London to Gaborone so that as they plan on investing to build capacity for tourists they do not travel the extravagant route unnecessarily,” opines the legislator.