Outgoing President Lt General Dr Ian Khama has showered Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng with praises for his outstanding performance. Bidding Tonota residents farewell at the main kgotla on Friday, Khama said many opposition members of Parliament strongly criticized his decision to appoint Olopeng as a cabinet minister.
“Many of my detractors argued that I have appointed Olopeng because he is my personnel friend but I was looking at his capability as a leader. I have worked with Olopeng for 38 years in the army, I know him very well.” The president indicated that as compared to his predecessors, Festus Mogae and the late Sir Ketumile Masire, he appoints his cabinet ministers considering their areas of speciality. He added: “I have appointed Kenneth Matambo Minister of Finance because he is an economist by profession. Matambo is knowledgeable about economic issues”.
Khama pointed out that since Olopeng was appointed a minister, he has been working hard to address challenges faced by the youth. He emphasised that Olopeng is passionate about youth, sport and culture issues.
Tonota residents donated P100,000 cash, 85 herds of cattle, 37 sheep and 38 goats as Khama’s gift pack.
Meanwhile, in Selebi-Phikwe, Khama made a declaration that seals the fate of the former mining town. The president revealed that the BCL mine which was shut down in October 2016 will never be re-opened. The decision not to re-open BCL will make Phikwe a ghost town. For a very long time, the town’s economy was heavily dependent on the mine. “The BCL machinery is old and that is the reason why the mine was shut down,” he said. Khama’s pronouncement dented the hopes of thousands of former miners who lost their jobs when BCL was put under liquidation.
Some of the former miners have since committed suicide after losing their jobs. Botswana Mine Workers Union leadership has always maintained that the mine failed due to poor management which spent money recklessly. They are adamant that the decision by the BCL Group to buy Nkomati mine in South Africa and Tati Nickel mine under the Polaris II strategy led to the demise of the former mining giant. After closing the mine, government promised that some investors were to come and set up in Phikwe to create jobs for the locals but up to now nothing concrete has happened.