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.’’
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.
Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.
Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.
The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.
According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.
Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead. According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.
“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.
The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.
What are fibroids?
Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.
The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.
Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.
The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.
Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty. “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.