The appointment of former Bank of Botswana Governor, Linah Mohohlo, to the position of Coordinator, Selebi Phikwe Economic Revitalisation/Recovery programme, has sent shockwaves in the corporate world and political circles. Mohohlo assumes her new responsibility with immediate effect and will be based at the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI). The appointment was announced by Permanent Secretary to the President and Secretary to Cabinet, Carter Morupisi, on Thursday. He said Khama "trusts that with her un-paralleled immense experience in the financial and economic fields, Mohohlo will greatly contribute to the economic recovery of Selebi-Phikwe". Asked to explain the difference between Mohohlo's unit and what is currently done by SPEDU, BITC, CEDA, BDC, BTO and the Chamber of Commerce for Selebi-Phikwe region among others, Morupisi said it will link up and coordinate all strategies geared towards revamping Selebi-Phikwe economy to give impetus to government efforts to create jobs and revive the town. "It plays a complimentary role," he said.
Morupisi told The Patriot on Sunday that fears of duplication of mandate between the new unit and other already existing government departments and agencies are baseless. He said all other departments will continue with their respective mandate. "There is no duplication. This is a new phenomenon, which requires prompt response from government. This is a special programme that needs someone who is confident enough to hit the ground running, someone with the requisite skill and experience," emphasised Morupisi.
He defended Mohohlo's appointment, saying she is the most suitable candidate, having worked closely with the international community during her stay at Bank of Botswana. Asked if recycling retired executives like Mohohlo is note a show of lack of confidence in a new crop of professionals, Morupisi said her experience is invaluable. He said nobody can doubt Mohohlo's capabilities, having prudently led Bank of Botswana for many years, where she formed relationships which can come handy in luring investors to Selebi-Phikwe. A task team-headed by Peggy Serame – Permanent Secretary MITI – was formed last month involving different government departments and parastatals to prepare a strategy for the transformation of Selebi-Phikwe. Selebi-Phikwe East MP Nonofo Molefhi – who also sits in cabinet – also dismissed talk that the new unit duplicates the role of other already existing agencies. He said SPEDU is a local unit, with its own mandate and will continue as such. He said Mohohlo's mandate is to ensure that all responsible agents deliver on their mandate as it relates specifically to the revitalisation of the economy of Selebi-Phikwe which is taking a knock due to the "dark cloud hanging over it caused by the closure of BCL".
Keorapetse: Reduce defence spending
Efforts to reach Selebi-Phikwe West MP Dithapelo Keorapetse failed due to connectivity challenges. However, Keorapetse had on Thursday presented a set of proposals to Parliament, through which the mining town could be saved from turning into a ghost town. He said government should reduce defence and security spending and divert the funds to recapitalise BCL, restructure the mine and manage it properly. Government should declare Phikwe a special economic zone and implement a robust accelerated action by reviewing SPEDU mandate and fund it to be an investment arm of Phikwe and the region," Keorapetse suggested. Calling on government to re-open the mine and look for investors, Keorapetse said official BCL resources stand at 25 million tonnes at grades of 0.66%Ni and 0.77Cu, and 2.7million tonnes measured resources at 0.86%Ni and 0.98%Cu. He dismissed reasons advanced by government that BCL mine is deep and expensive to mine and that Nickel and Copper Ore grades are low; and claims that government has been injecting money for 37 years out of 40. He criticised government for dishonesty when miners were promised to be paid for 12-18 months when the closure was announced. He said BCL deepest shaft is only 1540 metre lever (shallowest 650ml-potential 450ml) while in South Africa and elsewhere they mine in excess of 2 to 3 kilometres underground. He added that BCL fortunes can be improved by smelting Nkomati concentrate. "MDCB Executives messed up the BCL deal with Nkomati and were unreasonable," he said.