- Says govt should have managed the situation better
- Report shows the town is not ready to operate without BCL as the anchor, making the issue of total closure of the mine non-viable.
Business Botswana presented their long anticipated Task Team Report on BCL closure on Monday, where they revealed that their major findings from the analysis are that BCL mine could possibly still be profitable with some restructuring and change of ownership and management.
Business Botswana President, Lekwalo Mosienyane told the media that there was need for more consultation before the government took that decision as the closure has very large social and economic implications that need to be properly assessed.
“The BCL mine in particular was the heart of Selibe Pikwe and the region and has started to affect business in the area negatively. While other initiatives such as the ongoing SPEDU and horticulture plant activities could provide some new life for Selibe Phikwe, the town is not as yet ready to operate without BCL as the anchor, therefore making the issue of total closure of the mine is non-viable,” he said
The task team also established that the situation could have been managed better if socio-economic impact studies were done to guide the process.
Business Botswana Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Racious Moatshe, noted that the issue was made worse by the unavailability of new economic opportunities emerging in the region to absorb those who lost jobs especially in an economy that also has challenges with employment creation.
“Given the fact that all government and private sector services are contingent upon the mine’s existence to the extent that they either service the mine or its employees, the task team finds it reasonable to assume that 85 percent of such services would not survive without BCL,” he noted.
The report also showed that, besides the direct loss of employment in the mines themselves, there are several other downstream consequences which may cause many businesses to lose out, thereby leading to their eventual closure. These include those entities providing services such as private schools and private health clinics, retailing and commercial sectors, SMMEs, light industrial sectors to name but a few.
“Throughout its engagements with various stakeholders, most of whom had direct relations with BCL, there was a strong and consistent prevailing opinion that the closure of the BCL could have been conducted in a better way that what happened,” he said.
Furthermore, DR Moatshe said even with the seal of urgency by which government evoked its decision, the overwhelming strength of such opinions, most of which were supported by logical and reasonable facts, should serve as a learning point to government in terms of the need for rigorous stakeholder engagement on such matters bordering on national crises.
He said, although some stakeholders doubted the technical, financial and forecasting adequacy of the Polaris II strategy for the revival of BCL, the task team is persuaded towards a general consensus that the strategy was accurate in its detention and privatization of operational recovery imperatives of BCL.
He also noted that there is need to devise short term strategies intended to have an immediate cushioning effect on the Selibe Phikwe economy while further work is done on refining and implementing complementary medium to long-term strategies.