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Retrenchment unmasks the real war at BPC

There is a purpose as to why government had to change management at Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) to the extent of sacrificing the indigenization approach for the leadership of the limping organization.

While the latest indications point only to cost cutting and containment, it is evident that government was not happy with the glaring failure of the BPC and its heavy losses. Fast forward, BPC CEO, Stefan Schwarzfischer is at work, shedding load in the form of Batswana employees at the Corporation. He is convinced that they are the waste, they are the cost.  

Together with his Human Resource team, the CEO has attracted the wrath of axed and serving employees because of what employees see as double standards. Batswana with superior qualifications and experience have been retrenched while at the same time the corporation is engaging contract companies that employs expatriates of inferior qualification.

With the BPC is already at loggerheads with its employees and former employees over the ongoing retrenchment exercise which is intended to achieve a streamlined organization. Management claims that a review of the overall results of the individual staff performance appraisals for the financial year ending 31st March 2017 and that of the Corporation as a whole indicates a gross mismatch between the performance of the Corporation and that of individual employees.

But reports by employees on the ground are such that there are many cases of favouritism and witch hunt. “Employees who have questioned some management malpractices in the past are being targeted through the retrenchment exercise,” alleges one plant operator in Palapye where the heaviest blow was felt.

Most of the employees who were recently retrenched in Palapye had questioned the introduction of clocking machine for citizen employees whereas there no such machine at BPC depots elsewhere. Employees had indicated that the introduction of the machine was against the BPC HR manual or policy. Steag which has been engaged by the BPC on consultancy basis has in fact replaced BPC staff. Employees allege that the Steag bill far outweigh the retrenched employees wage bill.

One retrenched employee told this publication that he had complained about unfair treatment by one of the expatriate colleagues only to receive a retrenchment letter the next morning. “I am actually more qualified than the expatriate I am talking about, but they chose to keep him and boot me out,” he says.  He further stated that they have lost hope on lodging appeals or complaints because some in management and in the Board own flats that they have rented out to the expatriate workers, “so they cannot retrench them because they are paying their flats,” he claimed.

Citizen employees, most of whom have been retrenched now, had questioned some decisions such as the appointment of expatriates as forklift operators. As citizens continue to be shown the door at BPC, contract companies and their employees continue to enjoy bonuses for “no load loss”   and vacuum trucks are hired at the tune of P1.5 million per month despite working for a few days in a given month. By the account of these employees it is evident that cost is only justified when the money pays them but it becomes a different story when contract companies and expatriates are involved.

So far about 600 employees have been laid off and the target is to reduce the BPC work force by 1200 people. The actions of the Corporation’s well paid executives are a complete contrast to the reasons advanced for executing the ongoing retrenchment exercise which is meant to bring down costs at the loss making Power Corporation.

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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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