Close to 300 workers at BCL are facing rioting charges and are due to be disciplined and possibly fired. The employees allege that they have been charged because they challenged unreasonable and demeaning behaviour by their seniors. They are convinced that the charges are an orchestration to reduce the BCL working staff.
A furious BCL employee recounts what propelled and or led to the charges: “On the 6th March 2016, the cage conveying Workers deep into the mine at Number 3 Shaft was changed as routine maintenance. Afterwards, the cage experienced mechanical problems; it made a scary warbling sound on the guides/rails, there were fire sparks and there was smell of something burning and at some point the cage jammed. A strained rope and or a kink of the metal rope were also reported.”
He informed this publication that, in terms of Section 37 of the Mines, Quarries, Workers and Machinery Act, this is a dangerous occurrence which must be reported to the Inspector of Mines. He said instances of scary sounds, jamming, overloading, derailment of conveyance, over stretching of ropes and other incidents on the cage are reportable incidents to the inspector of mines. The BCL hasn't reported these to the inspector of mines and this border on criminality. Instead riggers were called to fix part of the strained rope of the cage.
When we voiced occupational health and safety concerns of boarding a dysfunctional cage, we were slapped with mischievous, unreasonable and malicious charges of "rioting behaviour leading to loss of production".
Weekend Post has gathered that the workers were simply protecting their lives by refusing to board a malfunctioning conveyer.
A Botswana Mine Workers Union representative said charging workers in this instance is not only unjustified but borders on fraud. He said the BCL management has sunk the mine into deep financial quagmire through imprudent management of resources and improper planning.
According to some of the charged employees who spoke on condition of anonymity, there's incompetence, haphazardness and negligence by some BCL managers.
“Some are involved in corruption and economic crime at a grand scale. Therefore, retrenchment is seen as part of the answer to these financial woes. The mine has therefore resorted to fraudulent retrenchment by dismissing workers over flimsy charges-anything and everything can get a worker to be dismissed,” said the employee.
Member of Parliament for Selebi-Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse said he is concerned about attempts of BCL management to retrench workers fraudulently through attrition. Frivolous and vexatious charges have been preferred against about 300 employees mainly from number 3 Shaft. Keorapetse said the act is a criminal behaviour of dicing with death by BCL Management and it is worrying.
“The obnoxious and lackadaisical attitude of the mine management towards the Botswana Mine workers Union Selebi-Phikwe branch is also disconcerting. The mine periodically violates its Collective Labour Agreement with the unions by refusing or unreasonably delaying meetings.
‘‘The shareholders through the minister should move swiftly to deal with the crisis and fire all the incompetent managers at the mine. The charges should be withdrawn as they are just a ploy to reduce the BCL workforce,” he said.
High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.
Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana. “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.
As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.
The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”
Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.
According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.
Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.
“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.
Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.
“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”
The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.
In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.
The State has chosen to ignore intents by kingpins in the P100 billion scandal to sue for a combined P85 million as tables turn against the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the matter.
Key players in the matter; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Bank of Botswana (BoB) have eroded the prospects of success following the duo’s institutions’ appearance before parliamentary committees recently.