There is a flicker of hope for the 6000 ex-miners who were recently axed from BCL following government’s decision to put the mine on provisional liquidation – finally the process of payments of their benefits has begun.
Appointed Liquidator Nigel Dixon Warren has confirmed and started the processing of paying the benefits from his jurisdiction which includes mainly terminal benefits, leave pays and bonuses. The miners’ minds have been settled, amid all the struggle of accepting the reality of job loss and the fear of pocketing next to nothing in the pension payout as BCL Staff Pension Fund (BCLSPF) and its asset manager AON announced the relatively good news.
Speaking this week Monday (December 19) in Selibe Phikwe Town Hall, Mr John Gaborutwe, Chairman of the BCL SPF told thousands of gathered former BCL employees that their asset manager, AON Botswana has began processes to roll out payment for their pension benefits, adding that however because of the large volume of payments to roll and issue out, the undertaking will take time.
According to Gaborutwe the Fund which was established 5 years ago has over 4300 members who worked at the Phikwe mine.”This is the money from our members who contributed five percent of their monthly salaries to preserve with us, together with the ten percent of their salaries contributed by the employer which was BCL Limited,” explained Gaborutwe.
When quizzed about whether the cash strapped and liquidated BCL has paid all of the ten percent as per employer- employee contracts, the Fund Chairman confirmed the company has indeed transacted their contribution to the Staff fund. Confirming that BCL held their end of the deal, AON Botswana Pension Consultancy Deputy Director, Peter Hikhwa told the Fund members that BCL has been paying the 10 percent every month, adding that in the cases of delay the oversight body NBFIRA was roped in to make sure the law and agreement was observed.
“According to NBFIRA regulations the employer pays out their contribution to the Pension Fund at least not beyond the 21st of the following month, and BCL has been meeting that deadline,” he said .Hikhwa explained that the recent payment was paid by the liquidator following the October 2016 final payments which came just before workers’ contracts were terminated on the 31st of the same month.
According to Hikhwa, pension payments will be made in two phases, the first encompassing members over 50 years and those that have reached the 60 years retirement age. He explained that the group will receive a third of their pension tax free and will have the option of a complete 100 percent payout. Hikhwa further said that the threshold houses one percent of 60 year olds, nine percent of 50-55 years old and 11 percent in the 55-59 age group making it to account for 21 percent of the total membership.
Hikhwa further unpacked that the other threshold comprises members under the age of 50 years who will receive one third of their pension, 33.3 percent of that taxed, adding that according to the contract and pension agreements two thirds of the under 50s will only be paid once they reach retirement age being from 50-60 of which he noted would have generated interest. “In a case of the unfortunate event of death, your next of kin as you provided to us, as well as your family will be paid the benefits in your absence,” he confirmed to the young pensioners.
The representative from the Fund Manager also highlighted that cumbersome processes for the liquidation process which includes providing information about retained BCL employees before the Pension Fund roll out processes can begin are still being carried out. “Once the liquidator clears with us which employees he retained, we will now engage Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) to clear with them.” He added that the process is expected to run until February.
According to Hikhwa new accounts will be created specifically for the pension payment. “We are in talks with a bank so that we create fresh accounts which will be active for 3 years, the account will operate like any other current account and will incur bank charges and tariffs like any other bank account,” he explained. The AON Pension Consultant revealed that the fresh account creation is necessary to fast track payment under a uniform integrated system, adding that once the money is paid beneficiaries can transfer the money to any other account they have and juggle with their hard earned cash as they deem fit like money in any other account. Furthermore Hikhwa told the gatherers that members can also transfer their remaining pension to other funds in an event they get new employment elsewhere or where ever they deem fit and qualify so.
Hikhwa concluded by observing that members will be notified once the processes with the liquidator, BURS and the contracted Bank are concluded. When Weekend Post quizzed him about the Bank which they will engage, the AON officer noted that the information can not be disclosed as the talks are not complete yet. “Once we seal the talks with the bank, the pension recipients will receive information of their pension standing, the one third and remaining two thirds thus the total pension they have gathered and how it was calculated as per the agreement,’’ he said.
He said that the ex miners should expect the money to be credited into their new accounts at least by March next year. Hikhwa revealed that they will be using a payment policy similar to that of retrenchment. BCL SPF Chairman, Gaborutwe told Weekend Post that the Fund was established in June 2011 and has over 4 300 members, adding that according to the audited report released in March 31st 2016 the fund was seating at P227 million. “We are a new fund, only 5 years old and we couldn’t have gathered much, but we were still developing ways to expand our portfolio and generate more interest for our members unfortunately the mine met its demise before we could achieve all that.”
Gaborutwe further noted that however, from March to date they expect the fund to have expanded to over P250 million from interest, “But the approximation figures we are receiving from our Fund Manager AON Botswana, which has been our pension management firm from the beginning, indicate we will pay out over P150 million, meaning about 100 million will remain for more interest generation and expansion,’’ he concluded.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.