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BCL Liquidator sets DPP on former BCL Management

Legal woes seem to pile up for the embattled mine and its former directors and management following the closure of the operations in October last year.

The initial court case registered by Norilsk Nickel against Government is still ongoing while a new twist in the matter has emerged. It has emerged that the Russians have cast the net wide by suing the mine’s former directors and executive management over the Nkomati deal. BCL Provisional Liquidator on the other hand has joined the fray as he seeks justice for the victims of the recent mine fatalities.

Dixon-Warren says he has engaged with the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) so as  to provide all the necessary information for the DPP to take any action considered necessary against the company or specific individuals identified as being responsible with respect to all recent mine fatalities. Reporting on workplace safety in the BCL Liquidation report he recently released, Dixon-Warren says a series of multiple fatality accidents occurred prior to liquidation. “There were fourteen fatalities at the mine since 2014 and this is unacceptably high,” he said.

He reveals startling findings by the investigators on the recent mine fatalities. Singling out the South East Extension (SEE) incident that killed four people, the liquidator says the findings of the independent assessment points out the root cause of the failure of the General Man Transport (GMT) to be failure to comply with legal requirement and inadequate maintenance apart from the specific technical failure of the rope.

The Provisional Liquidator’s report indicates that the incident in question was a result of a GMT 26 degree decline winder rope parting, sending the uncontrolled man carriage hurtling down the decline, killing four of the 10 people who were on the carriage while others were severely injured. “Rope safety factors of 10x breaking strength are required for this type of winder along with the destructive and non-destructive rope tests which are a statutory requirement,” says Warren.

According to the report, the investigators found that there was a failure to hold people accountable, inadequate processes to review and undertake shaft repair and the winder rope and failure by senior management to inspect legal record books. It states that there is no evidence that the engineer or manager had inspected or read the record books.

The report further reveals that the reporting structures “exacerbated the situation as the engineer, who was responsible for the safety of personnel was ranked below and reported to the mine captain, who is responsible for production.” Dixon-Warren says in the report that this is poor practice and outside of industry norm. He reveal that it is understood that the mine captains were under significant pressure to improve production which he says may have resulted in shortcuts being taken particularly with regard to safety.

Dixon-Warren’s report states that during the period under which the mines have been under Care and Maintenance, a number of chronic mining and technical failings have been identified and were well outside of industry norm. “These not only made the mine unprofitable but more seriously placed the lives of those on the mine at risk,” he said.

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Government sitting on 4 400 vacant posts

14th September 2020
(DPSM) Director Goitseone Naledi Mosalakatane

Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.

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FNBB projects deeper 50 basis point cut for Q4 2020

14th September 2020
Steven Bogatsu

Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.

The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter.  According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.

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Food suppliers give Gov’t headache – report

14th September 2020
Food suppliers give Gov’t headache

An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.

Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.

There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.

The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.

Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.

In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.

“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.

In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.

“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”

Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.

In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.

In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.

This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.

In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.

Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.

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