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Nigel Dixon-Warren: The BCL undertaker

Hardly a month after shocking news struck Selebi Phikwe owing to government’s decision to put the economic engine of the region on provisional liquidation, the decision backlash is beginning to hit the once wealthy and lively town very hard.


Early this week, on Monday, thousands of BCL workers (now classified as former) gathered at Itekeng community hall in Newstands, Selibe Phikwe where they met the wrath of Nigel Dixon-Warren, a high court appointed KPMG liquidator. They were given letters that would reveal to them their fate, amid the trouble in the once smoking town.


“BCL Ltd was placed under provisional liquidation by the high court of Botswana 9th October 2016 following stoppage of operations on 7th October 2016.I was appointed as provisional liquidator. Since 7th October 2016 the mine has been placed under care and maintenance; I have no option but to officially terminate your contract of employment with the company, with your last date of shift being 31st October 2016.’’ The letter, seen by this publication, reads in part.


Speaking to WeekendPost after receiving a full Setswana interpretation of the contents of the letter, an industrial class worker with BCL mine who had just started working for number four shaft hardly under a year ago had this to say: “This is a repeat of my experience with Discovery Metal (DML) in February 2015 , when it reaches this kind of letters know that it’s done, (hao bona go tuana go hedile),’’ said Obonye Mokopi, who is a former miner at the now ghost pits of DML/Khoemakhau Boseto Mine in Toteng.


The employment termination letter comes after liquidator, Nigel Warren wrote to the same employees making them aware of inevitable decisions he was to make following the dissolution of BCL Limited, its subsidiaries, BCL Investments and Tati Nickel. The letter also states that employees occupying BCL residences may continue staying in the company houses until further notice but clearly made them aware of the fact that the company will no longer take care of their electricity and water bills from November 30th 2016.


“We are delighted that at least we are given some time to fix our next residence after vacating BCL houses,” one miner observed, loudly reading the letter. The workers are however advised to vacate house as early as now. The termination letter also says that workers’ terminal benefits will be availed to the former employees after the liquidation process is complete and is significantly subject to provision of funds, and availability of such.


Botswana Mine Workers Union revealed this past week that they are unhappy with the way the liquidator treats their members, accusing him of rushing decisions and acting without consultation. “We will meet our legal counsel to explore options and we are ready to constitute a legal suit if advised so,” BMWU President, Jack Tlhagale, told the press after learning of the employment termination of their members and added that, “We fear government and the liquidator might end up not paying workers’ retrenchment benefits accordingly.”


BMWU last week petitioned President Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama after a march requesting government to reopen BCL mine. The petition was received by president Khama’s Senior Private secretary, Brigadier General George Tlhalerwa, oh his behalf.
On the other hand pressure continues to pile up on Selibe Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) as all eyes are on the parastatal to quickly unearth alternative economic activities that will save Phikwe from being Botswana‘s Detroit. According to reports from parliament, SPEDU used a whooping 1.4 million in its recent corporate identity rebranding exercise which is still ongoing.


Speaking to SPEDU Corporate and Communications Manager this week, WeekendPost gathered that SPEDU is still developing a solid PR strategy to give their side of story after weeks of criticism from the public and various stakeholders.  “A press conference will be convened soon to engage the media on our stance and progress as SPEDU, any communiqué will be made through our Marketing and Advertisement Agency- Incepta,” said Punah Molebatsi-SPEDU executive.


Head of State, Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama, has yet to comment on the BCL closure. A few weeks before Khama’s four cabinet minister arrived in Phikwe with the devastating news of government enclave‘s decision to put BCL on provisional liquidation, President Khama himself visited BCL mine, in early September and the mine closure it then seemed, was not anywhere in plans.


Meanwhile, many quarters, the opposition included, have called out Khama to voice his opinion and criticised his silence regarding the issue. Only the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, has graced Phikwe with his presence ever since the shutdown of operations at the BCL.


SMMEs feeling the pinch
Whereas mini truck business and relocation logistics business have been flourishing since the provisional liquidation of BCL mine, alongside hotel and conferencing businesses which enjoy business from countless meetings and conferences, the same cannot be said about the SMMES.


Food vendors, vegetables vendors and tuck shops owners are already conceding huge losses, just a few weeks into the mine’s closure. Malebogo Kefentse, a tuck-shop operator in Newstands Township in Phikwe relates that her proceeds have since been on free fall.
“Miners used to buy fat cakes and soup here while waiting to board the bus to their respective shafts, and  that made huge returns for me.’’

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Over 2 000 civil servants interdicted

6th December 2022

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 reaching WeekendPost 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 publication’s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, “as 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,” 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.

“It is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,” he told WeekendPost, adding that “when a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolved”.

Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.

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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 DFIs have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and its 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 DFIs.

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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