Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) Secretary General, Mbiganyi Moffat Ramokate has blasted Minister for Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Advocate Sadique Kebonang for remarking that copper miners in Selibe Phikwe welcomed the closure of BCL mine.
At a press briefing this Tuesday, Kebonang stated that the closure of BCL mine in Selebi Phikwe gave the miners a sigh of relief as it was something that they have long awaited.
Said Kebonang: “What the press has not picked and I was surprised that they haven’t picked this, is that when we went into Phikwe, the very employees of Phikwe, BCL themselves have welcomed the closure of this mine and said you know we are surprised that it has taken government this long because we were expecting this closure to happen last year because we have been going underground and we have not been producing enough to sustain this mine. “So it’s not something that they are not aware of.”
Kebonang also stated the same words in state broadcaster, Botswana Television evening news the same day.
Ramokate however described Kebonang’s utterances as simply “not true”.
He in fact told WeekendPost that they were taken aback by Kebonang’s words which their membership heard both on radio and television.
Ramokate further told this publication that BMWU even held a rally in Selebi Phikwe with Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sectors Unions (BOFEPPPUSU) where Kebonang’s record was set straight by the union leadership.
He further said that the miners were so incensed that they “were even using words that I cannot say to you”.
Ramokate stated that BMWU’s stance has always remained the same as contained in the petitions written to the then BCL board of directors chairman, Dr Akolang Tombale in 2014,and to the then Minister of Minerals Water and Energy Resources, Kitso Mokaila in April this year as well as to the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi in July 2016.
He stated that BMWU petitions to both Tombale and Mokaila long before the mine closure decried “safety and productions concerns” as well as what he termed “slave wages at the mine.”
He also stated that BCL’s wage bill was burdened by the astronomical salaries earned by the 10 man strong BCL Executive Committee (ExCo) which he said equated wages of thousands of miners.
He also said that finances at BMWU were gobbled by foreign consultancy companies which jetted into the country and left with huge sums of money after finishing their work, but whose recommendations were then left to gather dust, unused.
Ramokate further stated that instead of reigning in the costs at the mine through outsourcing of jobs, BCL saw the mine’s costs spiraling out of control in ways that were questionable as they suspected the mining leadership had special interests in outsourced jobs.
When contacted for comment, Kebonang stated that he should be understood from the perspective that in all life instances, there is always going to be a division of opinion and the BCL mine closure is no different.
“Listen, I was in Phikwe for a week and I talked to different people. I never said every worker welcomed the closure of the mine but I said some of them said they saw this coming. Some were in shafts that weren’t producing while some were in shafts that were productive,” he told this publication.
“To say that all welcomed the closure would have been a misunderstanding because some welcomed it and some didn’t. Perhaps I shouldn’t have joined politics because sometimes I tell the truth even to my detriment because I tell it like it is.”
BCL mine was unceremoniously closed two weeks ago, leaving around 6000 workers in the lurch, many of who had several dependants who relied on them for basic needs, including food, housing, clothing, shelter and others.
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.