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BDP MPs reject motion on rescuing ex-BCL miners

Publishing Date : 27 November, 2017

Author : ALFRED MASOKOLA

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislators yesterday opposed a motion tabled by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) legislator, Dithapelo Keorapatse requesting government to pay embattled former BCL mine employees an amount equivalent to their retrenchment packages.


Minister of Minerals, Energy Security and Green Technology, Advocate Sadique Kebonang opposed the motion on the basis that the beleaguered employees were never retrenched but become unemployed as a result of liquidation process.
“Let us not play politics with this matter by wanting to bring benefits that do not exist. BCL is currently under liquidation, and in terms of the law its former employees are not entitled to retrenchment packages because they were never retrenched in the first place,” he said.


Kebonang said the fate of BCL is under the care of the High Court and the government had no business in interfering with the liquidation process.  Initially the motion had sought government “to pay former BCL employees retrenchment packages” but legislator for Gabane-Mmakgodi lawmaker, Pius Mokgware moved for amendment after ruling party MPs contended successfully that when a company goes liquidation process its employees are not entitled to retrenchment packages.


The new amendment then requested government, using its compassion to pay the BCL former employees an amount equivalent to retrenchment packages. Kebonang however still opposed the new amendment, arguing that there was no difference except change of words since opposition MPs wanted to create benefits that do not exist. “Nothing has changed, the motion seeks to achieve the same thing that we know is a non-starter in the first place,” he said. 


 Debating the motion, Gaborone Central legislator Dr Phenyo Butale said the matter of government paying BCL employees an equivalent to retrenchment packages was not so much about the law, but acting in a humanely manner owing to the implication of the unexpected closure of the mine.  He said the mine has left a lot of lives ruined hence the need for government intervention even if it is not compelled by the law to do so.


Kgosi Tawana Moremi II, legislator for Maun West hinted that, government had to help BCL employees because had created a legitimate expectation, when immediately after the closure of mine, Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi promised distressed employees jobs to rescue them. This matter of promises was also highlighted by the mover of the motion, Keorapetse who said Masisi together with Kebonang had made a litany of promises to former BCL employees yet they are refusing to forth come when they are needed most.


Masisi however, has denied that he promised jobs to the besieged employees. He further said he was surprised by suggestions that government was acting in an inhumane manner by rejecting the motion. He said over the years, it was through BDP compassion that it kept the mine going over the past 44 years even when the mine was not doing well. Finance Minister, Kenneth Matambo concurred with the counrty’s number two.


“I have come to accept that we will never look human in the face of the opposition no matter what good government has done,” said Matambo. Other MPs who supported the motion include Haskins Nkaigwa of Gaborone North, who mentioned that, Masisi as well President Ian Khama are finding it difficult to go back to people of Selibe Phikwe to update them on what they promised. 


The motion was eventually dismissed by the ruling party on numerical strength, but the quorum collapsed before the final voting on the motion could take place. The motion is expected to resume on this coming Friday, will the mover of the motion, Keorapetse expected to respond to the debates.

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