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.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.