The Vice President Mr Mokgweetsi Masisi has commended the Selebi Phikwe National Marathon which has been running for the past 30 years for continuity noting that the event gave the town hope and kept Selebi Phikwe vibrant despite the challenges currently experienced by BCL Mine.
He said the Selebi Phikwe National Marathon activity enhanced the quality of life in the mining town as it developed new business opportunities for locals and developed athletes who may become marathon champions of the world.
Vice President Masisi who is also Member of Parliament for Moshupa-Manyana made this accolade on Friday during the Orange Selebi Phikwe National Marathon pre marathon dinner organised by SPEDU at Stone House Lodge in Selebi Phikwe.
Mr Masisi acknowledged Orange Botswana for sponsoring the Selebi Phikwe National Marathon to the tune of P600 000 for three years which meant that the competition will be receiving P200 000 annually from the organisation starting this year.
However, as Botswana will be celebrating 50 years of independence this year, the marathon benefitted from an extra P100 000 contributed by Vice President Masisi to make a total of P300 000.
Mr Masisi commended athletes and the National Olympic Council for their participation in the marathon indicating that by doing so , they gave the marathon credibility and enhanced the possibility of the athletes participating in other marathons elsewhere raising the profile of Botswana as a country from which athletes could be drawn.
He went on to encourage Selebi Phikwe Marathon to utilise the Information Communication Technology platform to communicate all that was needed to be communicated about the marathon. He said they should develop a website to market, brand and promote the marathon.
He wished them well in preparation for the 31st marathon next year encouraging them to make the marathon more diversified to promote tourism in Selebi Phikwe. The Vice President Masisi said government was committed to seeing Selebi Phikwe through the challenges the mining town was facing.
He explained that despite the fact that BCL Mine which was the main economic driver of the mining town was experiencing setbacks, government would help the mine turn the corner. He said government was committed to the mine and its 5000 plus employees.
He went on to commend all those who played a role in BCL Mine since its inception up to date noting that they had played a pivotal role in the mine and development of Selebi Phikwe up to its current status.
The Vice President also mentioned that due to the fact that minerals were finite and the mining town was currently heavily reliant on BCL Mine, the government was committed to diversifying the economy of Selebi Phikwe and the region through SPEDU to reduce the town's reliance on the mine and also bring infrastructural development as well as promote tourism in the area.
For her part, the director of Corporate Affairs at Orange Botswana which is the main sponsor of the marathon, Ms Lepata Mafa-Nthomolang said Orange had business partnerships with retailers in Selebi Phikwe and surrounding areas who sold Orange products.
She said the business relationship with such partners created employment for people in the area which was critical to the Selebi Phikwe region. She said though her organisation was sponsoring the Selebi Phikwe National Marathon for three years, the relationship of her organisation with mining town and marathon would not end.
The public relations manager of the Selebi Phikwe Marathon Local Organising Committee Mr Kennedy Dudzai noted that this years' marathon was bigger and better. He said athletes from across the country taking part in the competition had increased and that runners from Zimbabwe and Namibia also took part in the event.
He also indicated that athletes that would be getting position one, two and three would go through the anti doping procedure prescribed and facilitated by the National Olympic Council. Meanwhile, the mayor of Selebi Phikwe, Mr Amogelang Mojuta, acknowledgwd Mr Masisi for playing a role in the realisation of the Orange Selebi Phikwe National Marathon.
He said his role gave the mining town's marathon dignity and a sense of seriousness. He also commended those who came along to participate in the marathon and thanked Orange Botswana for sponsoring the event.
The event was graced by MP for Selebi Phikwe East Mr Nonofo Molefhi, chief executive officer of SPEDU, Dr Mokubung Mokubung senior officials, from BCL Mine, deputy mayor of Selebi Phikwe, senior government officials and other dignitaries.
Source: Botswana Daily News.