Part of the reason why BCL was closed has been linked to corruption where millions of Pula were siphoned out of the organization – now the mine’s value is under threat because of catastrophic theft at various sites.
As hundreds of former BCL employees vacate company houses and relocate from Selibe Phikwe, some to return back to their respective villages, and others scout for opportunities elsewhere, vandalism and theft on BCL properties escalate every day. Information gathered by WeekendPost indicates that Vandalism and appliances theft at vacant BCL houses is on the rise. According to Selibe Phikwe Police Station Commander, Superintendent Victor Nlebesi, ever since former miners started vacating the houses some residents have embarked on an endeavor to vandalize and unplug valuable electric appliances from the houses.
Nlebesi who commands the area covering Number 3 and 4 Shafts as well as the central Selibe Phikwe which enclaves BCL Houses notes that the appliances targeted by the culprits include, Airconditioniers, geysers, kitchen fitting – mainly stoves. “We can’t quantify the worth of the damage and stolen material as of now, but we estimate it to be hundreds of thousands pulas,” he said.
“We are talking about high quality stoves, top notch air conditioners and electrical appliances made from valuable material stolen in significantly large numbers so far,” he observed. The Station Commander further observes that the appliances and stolen materials are resold here in Selibe Phikwe and surrounding areas at low prices.
“We are investigating the culprits who we believe to be Phikwe residents, and their customers are mechanical workshop operators and industrial dealers,” Nlebesi indicated in an interview with the media this past week. For theft occurring at the mine site, the Station Commander observed that his area of jurisdiction covers the number 3 and 4 shafts while the Number 1 and 2 under the policing of Botshabelo Police station.
According to Superintendent Nlebesi theft at number 3 shaft includes amongst others megawatts batteries, noting that in October alone, just after the decision to cease operation at the mine, over 20 batteries have gone missing. “20 batteries have been stolen from 3 shaft alone, in October alone and mind you this are batteries worth over P12 000 each, that means we looking at a value of over P100 000 worth of theft in October at just one site,” he explained.
For her part Superintendent Gothusamang Badubi, Station Commander of Botshabelo Police station, BCL main site and Shaft number 1 & 2 as well as stores and the lucrative smelter have not escaped the greed of the thieves. Although she provided sketchy information, Badubi observed that tool boxes and equipment are disappearing at the mine sites.
“We have registered that a number of tool boxes are missing at the main stores department,” she said not revealing the quantity of the boxes already stolen. “We are still investigating the matter but figures before us reveal that about 4 copper plates have been stripped from the smelter.”
Information gathered by WeekendPost reveal that copper plates are worth hundreds of thousands pulas each with one toolbox as per the current market price sitting at over P16 000 each.
The Station Commander noted that they are working with BCL Security for protection of the company properties. However according to a source close to the investigations and BCL current administration, some within the company’s security may be implicated in the ongoing crime. “Some of the BCL security personnel and staff from the retained 400 are being questioned by the police,” indicated a source who preferred anonymity
BCL was put on provisional liquidation by its main and only shareholder, Botswana Government on October 7 this year, with mining operations halted on that date effective immediately. When addressing thousands of aggrieved workers this year October Tuesday 11th, just a day after Selibe Phikwe woke up to a shock of BCL dissolution, the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi assured gatherers in Selibe Phikwe stadium that afternoon that the government will put in place strict measures to secure the mine properties especially the sites which comprises of a smelter arguably one of the best in the world worth almost 1 billion pula.
Masisi was responding to a cautionary plead from one miner during question and comments session. After his appointment Liquidator, Nigel Dixon Warren of KPMG immediately terminated contracts of over 4000 employees on the 31st of October 2016, with the last full salary received that month. Dixon Warren with the power bestowed upon him retained about 400 employees, mainly from the Human Resource Department, Information Technology, Security and a number of mechanical staff members and engineers for dewatering of the shaft, care and maintenance of the mine.
Dixon-Warren told this publication that time that the mine sites, equipment and properties needed to be protected and kept safe to maintain their value and worth which was an important factor in liquidation during selling and acquisition of the mine by potential new owners. BCL senior staff houses situated at the commonly known as “Tshaba Ntsa” suburbs are worth over 500 million pula alone. And the company is valued at over $800 million; with the most valuable asset being the smelter which was recently refurbished at a cost of over 700 million pula. Efforts to get views from the government enclave and current BCL administration were unsuccessful as Minister Sadique Kebonang’s phone rang unanswered while BCL liquidation team declined commenting on the matter.
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.