The pressure is mounting for President Lt Gen Dr. Ian Khama Seretse Khama and his deputy Mokgweetsi Masisi to intervene against looming job losses at the BCL mine. Trade unions have joined the bandwagon in calling for the Office of the President to intervene in the crisis.
While the economy of the country is recovering from the 2008 economic downturn, unemployment rates have not picked, and job losses have continued, with the mining sector being hardly hit.
Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) travelled to commemorate Labour Day in the beleaguered town of Selebi Phikwe, BOPEU assembled at Tsholofelo Park in Gaborone to petition Vice President Masisi against growing job losses and undesirable working conditions.
Just when everyone thought the P1.1 billion bailout of BCL by Barclays Bank of Botswana loan, underwritten by Government was a sigh of relief for workers, the mine management announced that at least 2000 employees will lose their jobs in a retrenchment exercise to be carried out soon.
Delivering the petition to Assistant Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Philip Makgalemele, who was representing Masisi, Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) President Bohithetswe Lentswe condemned government for making employees to pay a heavy price every time a quasi-government organisation is facing financial crisis.
“On many occasions there is a lot of recklessness in the manner in which businesses are conducted. Corruption and mismanagement of funds by management goes on undeterred,” he said.
“Whereas Government may do very little to prevent retrenchment made by the private companies, we believe it is a different story where a state enterprise is concerned. As a sole shareholder in enterprises, it is incumbent upon Government to ensure that such enterprises are firstly run properly to avoid maladministration and misuse of funds.”
Lentswe further called on Office of the President to impress upon Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Kitso Mokaila to urgently deal with the BCL Mine question.
“We would like to emphases that it is not desirable to lose such a large number of jobs for a community that depends on mining. Should the BCL Mine intentions be realised there is a great potential that we will witness an unprecedented suffering in the Town of Selebi Phikwe.”
Also speaking at the commemoration of the day in Gaborone was Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) First Deputy President Masego Mogwera who told the Assistant Minister that as long as government view employees as liabilities, the public service will never be productive.
“Workers are faced with challenges in the para state organs and public sector where government is constricting the budgets by 8 percent. It is the employee income which will be affected because they are considered a liability to the employer, while actually they are assets,” he said.
Mogwera also highlighted that laws which were anti-workers should not see the light of the day such as the Trade Dispute Amendment Bill which is currently before parliament should not be entertained.
“Essentialisation of all workers with the view of preventing them from embarking in industrial action be condemned,” he stated.
Officiating on the day after receiving the pettion, Makgalelmele said in as much as workers are entilted to advocate for better working conditions, they should also understand the need to apply themselves fully and faithfully to their vocational responsiblities to ensure optimal productivity.
Makgalemele further remarked that the Trade Dispute Amendement bill, which is currently the bone of contention between government and unions was meant to introduce improvements in the trade dispute resolution system with the view of enhancing industrial harmony.
“We are always going to differ on issues , but that should never lead to an ‘us’ and ‘them’ attitude. On the contary it should lead to more engagement,” he said.
“The Trade Dispute Bill was tabled in the last session of Parliament, but was not finalised because some Members of Parliament felt that it should await the dertemination of a case filed by BOFEPUSU at High Court. “
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.