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Tsogwane summons Debswana chief over scannex

Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, who is also Member of Parliament for Boteti West will intervene in a long standing dispute involving the Debswana Mining Company, its employees and Ministry of Environment, Conservation, Natural Resources and Tourism.

Tsogwane who has been touring his constituency met with management of Debswana’s Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa Mines as well as employees this week to address a number of issues.  Top of the agenda was the controversial scannex machine. The device will be used to replace the search system which is conducted in high risk areas where workers are obliged to take off their clothes to be searched.

The development to install security gadgets is said to make a local operations at par with other mines especially in South Africa. However there is a resistance from the employees, Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) and Minister of Natural Resources Tshekedi Khama. The argument from those who are against the installation os scannex is that: “the radiation from the machinery is hazardous to the employees.” There has been a delay in approving the scannex machine as the government through the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) is stalling the approval.

 Following the deliberations with both employees and management, Tsogwane has decided to take the matter with Debswana Managing Director, Balisi Bonyongo.  “This has been noted and it is a serious matter, I will engage Mr. Bonyongo very soon to see how best to deal with the matter.” he said briefly amid a thunderous applause from the floor.

According to Debswana, 36 percent of the workers smuggle diamonds out of its mines by hiding them in the anus, 30 percent hide them between their buttocks, 14 percent use their socks and hair, 5 percent conceal the gems in their mouths, 2 percent place the gems under their scrotum, 2 percent hide them in their clothes, 2 percent use their underwear and 10 percent use other means.

The VP has nonetheless not committed the timeframe with the unhappy lot as to when he will meet with the Debswana chief to discuss the delicate matter, according to sources. WeekendPost has been informed by a high ranking Debswana employee who was part of the meeting that employees also used the opportunity to speak about the need for increment of staff salaries.  

“It is a serious matter of which the VP discussed with us and for now there is nothing to do since superiors are dealing with the issue. Moreover it is not like we only discussed the scan thing, we talked to a number of other pressing issues including the salary increment,” said the source.Debswana had planned a close to P50 million installations of ten upright, full-body Scannex X-ray scanners at four of its diamond mines in Botswana. Four scanners were to be installed at security checkpoints at Jwaneng, four at Orapa and one each at the Letlhakane and Damtshaa mines.

Under the system 200 scan can be conducted annually. However pregnant women would be exempted and will be given new roles to avoid being scanned. Debswana according to sources has already received approval from the Radiation Protection Inspectorate, but has been turned down by DEA.

Meanwhile, it is noted that the Scannex has a low X-ray radiation dose that allows for quick scan time. Its operations are fully automated and X-rays are automatically turned off should any error occur. Each machine has a built-in dose area product, or DAP, meter that measures the X-ray dose whenever a scan takes place. The Scannex’s dose limit is one millisievert per year (mSv/y) per individual, which is in line with the International Commission on Radiology Protection limit of one millisievert per year for members of the public.  

In the past various stakeholders including specialist-Disease Control Dr Nkomo pointed out during a stakeholder’s consultative meeting that all should be done to protect people’s eyes from over exposure to radiation as they are very sensitive. “My understanding is that radiation has no threshold; dealing with radiation is not straightforward given that there are causes that may exacerbate cases, like the genetic make-up of individuals.”

The company has already installed these gadgets in other mines in South Africa and Namibia. On the other hand Eunice Mpoloka, senior projects manager has in the past stressed the significance of the development. After the reviews the outcomes revealed weaknesses and vulnerabilities. The two reviews were followed by an internal one that confirmed security at the mines leaves a lot to be desired.

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.

Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa

A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.

COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”

According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.

“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”

Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”

Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.

Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.

“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.

For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.

“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.

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TotalEnergies Botswana launches Road safety campaign in Letlhakeng

22nd November 2022

Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.

The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ,   Patrick Thedi said,  “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”

As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders  will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.

Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele,  who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.

The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as  well as  bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.

TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050,  has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.

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