Wednesday, October 20, 2021

MP proposes social welfare payment for laid-off BCL and Tati Nickel employees

While the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Sadique Kebonang, has told the 4700 employees retrenched from BCL Limited and Tati Nickel Mining Company to accept that the party is over, the Gaborone Bonnington South MP, Ndaba Gaolathe, has a proposal that the ill-fated employees will definitely welcome.

Through a Private Member’s Bill that he plans to table soon, Gaolathe is proposing “Payment of monthly social welfare financial support to redundant Botswana citizen employees of the BCL Limited and Tati Nickel Mining Company (TNMC) for a period of thirty-six (36) months from the date of the commencement of this Act, of such sums and amounts, and on such terms and conditions as shall be regulated by the Minister in terms of the provisions of this Act.”

Reference to “Act” is the ambitious legalese used by legal drafters with the anticipation that a bill will gain passage and become an Act of Parliament. The Minister referred to is that of Finance and Economic Development who is assigned a quite significant role in the Selebi Phikwe Economic Bailout and Diversification Support Fund Act, 2016. The authority to raise money for the fund is vested in the minister. The Bill proposes two methods: by supplementary appropriation of revenues the minister estimates to be sufficient to meet the emergent and exigent public need for expenditure and, with the authority of parliament, by loan from any international development financier. Acting on the recommendations of the Fund Manager, the minister shall ensure that money from the Fund is “lawfully administered and applied.”

In addition to the monthly living allowance, the Fund will also “provide the necessary financial mitigation measures for mine workers rendered redundant from the Botswana Government copper and nickel mining operations.”

For all that to happen, the Bill has to sail over two hurdles. The first is passage in parliament which will require the support of MPs, a majority of whom are in the ruling party while Gaolathe is from the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change. Supposing the Bill clears that hurdle, the second will be presidential assent. In essence, that means that for the 4700 retrenched employees (and their dependents) to get the allowance the MP proposes, President Ian Khama and his MPs have to agree.

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