A relatively new diamond-mine, located in the heart of Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), Ghaghoo mine which is a subsidiary of Gem Diamonds Botswana, has suspended operations and preparing to undergo retrenchment exercise.
Managing Director of Gem Diamonds Botswana, Haile Mphusu, confirmed to this publication that retrenchment will ensue as a result of halting of production at the mine. “We are starting process of putting the mine on care and maintenance,” Mphusu pointed out while adding that in a lay man’s view, “it means that production has stopped.” “The only work that will take place is the one aimed at preserving the assets. By all intends and purposes production has ceased,” the MD stressed.
The reasons for closing the mine he said is that the price of the type of diamonds that is mined at Ghaghoo has weakened and “we are continuing to lose money.” He pointed out that most employees will be cut but of course not all will lose jobs, others will remain to keep the asset in state so that when prices of diamonds recovers, mining can start.
“We have around 183 employees in Botswana who work for Gem Diamonds Botswana that owns Ghaghoo mine. We also have around 115 that we outsourced to other companies. In the process of care and maintenance, only around 30 to 40 employees will remain to take care of the assets. Therefore around 250 will lose jobs,” he highlighted to this publication.
According to Mphusu, shareholders cannot continue to subsidies the mine. Gem Diamonds, the leading producer of high-value diamonds, owns both the Letšeng mine in Lesotho, and the Ghaghoo mine in Botswana. Its client base comprises of prominent diamantaires and manufacturers from the world’s major diamond centers which are New York, Belgium, Israel, India, China, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the Middle East and Switzerland.
Basically Gem Diamonds Botswana mine has not been making profits for 5 years now and it is said to have been supported by its sister mine, Letšeng in Lesotho during that time. Now, that Letšeng is said to be struggling as well, Gem Diamonds Botswana was forced to close down Ghaghoo mine because they cannot support the two operations that are both struggling.
Mphusu stated that, diamond is not like gold, it depends on the quality, size and type of diamonds that you mine. The mine started operations in 2011 and has been engulfed by loses over the years due to the low prices of diamonds. He added that last year, the organization underwent restructuring exercise in which it was trying to keep some jobs with the hope that price of diamond will recover in 2016, but it did not happen.
Reports indicate that other attempts by international Gem Diamonds to extend its operations beyond Botswana and Lesotho have been unsuccessful, with the sale of the Ellendale mine in Australia for $15m in 2012, and the closure of the Cempaka alluvial mine in Indonesia in 2008. Exploration efforts in Angola and elsewhere in Africa also said to have been unsuccessful.
Inside sources suggest that, Mphusu’s talk is candy coated because the reality of the matter is that, Ghaghoo mine closed down its doors of operation on Thursday this week following organization’s projection of uncertainty into the future. “Mine closed down today. It’s official. The mine has now been placed under care and maintenance. Management is saying this is because of downfall in diamond sales that went down in December 2016. And because the type of diamonds that are mined in CKGR are struggling in the market – it’s unlikely for them to recover anytime soon,” a highly placed source linked to the mine, who alerted the publication on the development revealed.
He however alleges that part of the reason that led to mine closure was poor management. “The mine was not planned well. Their underground mining method was not executed well. The timing was wrong, they rushed for production and it caught up with them. Their plant also hasn’t been doing well since implementation,” the sourced explained. The company retrenched about 250 workers in March last year to scale down production, the immaculate source, further highlighted to this publication.
Ghaghoo mine, the first underground mine in Botswana, was instigated in 2011 following the Botswana government’s controversial forceful eviction of Basarwa from their homeland in the CKGR to pave way for the mine under dubious circumstances.
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â€ť she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
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.
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.