We hail the appointment of former Bank of Botswana Governor Linah Mohohlo to spearhead efforts aimed ensuring economic recovery of Selebi-Phikwe following the liquidation of BCL mine. Government by taking this step is demonstrating the seriousness with which it treats this crisis. With 4000 workers thrown into the streets and their dependents forced to change ways and ultimately with the town set for turning into a ghost one, there is every need to urgently mitigate the severe outcomes. And there is only one way – to create and generate economic activities in the town to re-employ some of the workers that worked for BCL. It is urgent that projects that have been in the pipe line be implemented now and not later. This will give hope to thousands of these people who are now being forced to resettle back to their home villages with almost nothing to look forward to.
Mohohlo is a highly experienced leader with vast networks and skill to plan and deliver a working plan for the area. She has the necessary clout that will not make anyone in the Government Enclave undermine her efforts. And Government having appointed her to help save it from public attacks of having done little to avoid the closure of mine will be under pressure to ensure that she does not fail. Her failure is Government’s. As one of the most successful technocrats to come out of this country, there is no chance she would not take any role that could ultimately dent her reputation. As a no-nonsense leader, she will not allow anyone to drag her down. Even as it is an emergency she will have conducted her own due diligence to measure the odds at stake before agreeing to be a champion of a town under liquidation. And here therefore lies a good opportunity for Selebi-Phikwe because in Mohohlo it has been given a person with a DNA of achieving. We trust that there will be no duplication of roles and that all players responsible for saving the town from total collapse will work smoothly for the common goal.
However even as we hail Mohohlo’s appointment we are getting worried that President Ian Khama is once more tapping on a retiree to do a job that has people deployed to do. Just recently he re-assigned the retired Vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe, former cabinet ministers and former senior government officials to oversee project implementation with a particular focus on poverty alleviation schemes. These are jobs that are currently being done by senior government officials. The question therefore is - what are we saying about the ability of current senior civil servants? Why are we paying two people to do one job? And hence - what have SPEDU executives been doing for so long that we now require Mohohlo to have things moving? Under the circumstances BCL mine’s closure should have come at a time when many SPEDU projects were running. We struggle to single out any if at all they exist. Government as a result is challenged to ensure in future that it does not keep underperforming people or units. It has to enhance its project implementation capacity as a matter of urgency. Otherwise well thought-out projects will always be frustrated due to poor implementation. We hope the operation save Phikwe will bear fruit!