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300 BCL employees charged with rioting

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.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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