Tati-East MP Moyo Guma has urged Government to adjust the National Development Plan 11 (NDP 11) and exercise flexibility when we dealing with specific projects in order to address challenges emanating from the recent closure of the BCL and Tati-nickel mine. “We need to be very open and honest as Members of Parliament that there may be a need for us to adjust this plan to accommodate the challenges that we are facing. It cannot be business as usual when people in Selebi-Phikwe and Francistown have no jobs. If the plan does not address these particular issues we need to look at it very carefully and say what we are going to do,” he said. Guma, who is also the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises, talked at length about how government should bear in mind that the closure of BCL mine and Tati-Nickel mine recently was never anticipated, hence the urgent need to ensure that NDP 11 addresses these two incidences directly. “When we were conceptualising this plan, it was not anticipated that we would be having a situation in which Selebi-Phikwe area, BCL and Tati Nickel were going to be closed and cause so much economic difficulties for our people,” he said. He asked the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Kenneth Matambo to engage Cabinet and the President to come up with interventions very quickly to address Selebi Phikwe issues.
The outspoken legislator asked his colleagues to brace themselves for the worst and implored them to be willing to forgo whatever developments they had anticipated and were expecting in their constituencies and instead advocate for funds to be diverted to areas affected by the BCL and Tati Nickel mines. “If there is a need for us to at some point, even if I had a project in my constituency that may have to be deferred to cater for the issues arising in Selebi Phikwe and Francistown, I will have to forgo that project because the situation as is right now requires that all of us must make sacrifices. It is key. Once this document is passed and nothing has been done you know by law the Minister of Finance and Economic Development cannot come out with something different,” said Guma. He pleaded with the Minister of Finance to allow legislators to unpack the projected revenue and expected expenditure as and when the sectorial presentations are made from different ministries so that they can see where they can make savings and even make recommendations. “What you should not do Minister is that you should not even at any point in time attempt is to increase the expenditure. We can play around with the figures here and adjust but we should not go beyond this. It is critical that we must exercise financial discipline,” said Guma. According to Guma, NDP 11 should address what is key in assisting the country in economic growth.
He advised that Botswana should look at the agricultural sector and mineral beneficiation and also that the infrastructure must be geared towards giving the country economic growth. “There is no point in building roads in areas that do not assist us with economic growth even if it gives us political advantage. At some point in time if it means me losing my popularity and losing a constituency but the country benefits, so be it,” he said. He also took the opportunity to implore government to create more employment opportunities for the youth. Guma warned that the biggest threat facing the country is youth unemployment. According to Guma, young people want to hear what the plan is coming up with. “We must be concerned as Members of Parliament with these graduates that do not have jobs. Can you imagine an educated person without a job? It is the most dangerous person. We need to address that. When they all stand up in revolution they would not spare any of us here. It does not matter which area you will be coming from. They can read all of us,” warned Guma.