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BCL union boss blasts Kebonang

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.

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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 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.

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