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.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.