FRANCISTOWN – The Minister of Trade and Industry, Vincent Seretse says that it is high time that Batswana accept the fact that job losses are normal and will always be inevitable.
Responding to Francistown city councilors who expressed concern over the closure of Tati Nickel Mining Company and resultant layoffs last week, he emphasized that job losses will always be there.
“Some of the companies close down and some of them survive. Job losses will always be inevitable as they are a reality and people should learn to live with that reality. It is often a matter of whether those employers or organizations are making profit or not. The current closure of the mines is not a new thing. In the current scenario BCL which owns Tati Nickel Mine (TNMC) had to close down as its life had come to an end resulting in job losses,” he said.BCL and Tati Nickel Mining Company shut down their operations last month leading to over 5 000 job losses.
The councilors demanded that the Minister explain what the future holds for Francistown in terms of investment opportunities to cushion the effects of the job losses. They also bemoaned lack of consultation from government over important decisions that were made regarding the closure of mines.
Meanwhile Seretse continued to say that it was reasonable for BCL to close its operations because government could not afford to operate it.
“You should remember that BCL once had shareholders and they pulled off because it was no longer profitable. The government had to take responsibility and carry the burden to run the mine despite the fact that it was not making any returns or profits. It was high time that the government had to close it because it was not making any profit and it was costing the economy. This mine could have been closed many years ago,” he told councilors.
On what initiatives were put in place to cushion the economy of Francistown which is already seen to be plummeting due to the closure of mines, the minister said that Francistown has always been top of their agenda at Botswana Investment Trade Centre (BITC). He said that the city has been positioned as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and identified to have the potential of becoming a Transport and Logistics Hub.
“Francistown is high on the agenda in terms of attracting investors and what is interesting is that this city council is currently embarking on vision 2022 in an endeavor to transform this city into an economic hub by attracting investment. BITC has placed Francistown high on its agenda as Special Economic Zone,” he said.
Seretse had accompanied the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Saadique Kebonang who had been invited by the councilors to explain to them about the closure of TNMC.