Thursday, October 28, 2021

P5 billion military spending could save BCL – Keorapetse

Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse has said that the procurement of military aircraft worth in excess of P5 billion would be enough to recapitalise the just liquidated BCL mine and create employment in Selibe Phikwe.

Commenting on the Draft NDP 11, Keorapetse accused the government of buying super jets instead of investing the funds on revitalising BCL mine and saving jobs.

“You are buying supersonic jets at the cost of billions. Instead of spending billions in arms of war, take the P5 billion and recapitalise the BCL mine so that jobs are created,” said Keorapetse.  

He cautioned the government to “stop pilling arms of war; you are buying armed Gripen (fighter jets) at the cost of billions, invest in that town and stop buying luxurious arms of war that can only land in Thebephatshwa (Air Base) and Francistown. What is the use, why not take P5 billion to Selibe Phikwe to resuscitate the mine and create jobs?”

Keorapetse questioned the huge military spending by Botswana wondering if the country was preparing for war.

He said BCL should have been placed under judicial management instead of being placed under provisional liquidation because prices of copper are likely to rebound in the next few years.

Keorapetse noted that there were some inconsistencies in the reasons given by government for the closure of BCL.

He wondered if NDP 11 will bring the desired results of what it seeks to achieve saying there are no set targets. He accused Finance Minister Kenneth Matambo of failing to update Parliament on the number of jobs lost during NDP 10 because this could “shame the government.”

He said Vision 2016 is littered with promises that have not been delivered citing the high levels of unemployment in the country. According to Keorapetse, Matambo has failed to commit himself on how the government intends to reduce poverty and create employment during the NDP 11.

“There are no set targets in terms of how you intend to reduce poverty during the NDP 11; you have decided to hide… so that we don’t hold you accountable, you don’t promise anything,” he said. 

He said the government has failed Batswana under the current leadership because it cannot commit itself on measurable and deliverables. He said recent a recent international study has found that Batswana are among the unhappiest nations in the world and this is due to unemployment and poverty.  Young people, Keorapetse said, are the most affected by unemployment. He shot down suggestions that committing and setting targets for creation of employment is an academic exercise saying United States of America President Barack Obama committed himself that he would create employment upon assuming office and he has surpassed expectations. According to Keorapetse, poverty and income inequality are still serious problems in the country adding that Batswana have been excluded from benefitting from the country’s wealth in favour of foreigners and naturalised citizens. He said procurement of goods and service are dominated by foreigners.

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