NUM’s Social Manager under the Worker’s development agency, Lekhotla Mabea
The South African National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has said it would start issuing University bursaries to biological children of former Botswana migrant workers early next year.
Speaking at a kgotla meeting in Molepolole on Thursday morning, NUM’s Social Manager under the Worker’s development agency, Lekhotla Mabea revealed that the bursaries would only benefit students whose fathers were members of NUM at the time they retired from the South African mines.
“Our mandate in the development wing of NUM is to look after the interests of former miners, energy and construction workers. The bursaries cover university studies in all fields,” Mabea explained.
Other countries, including Swaziland, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and South Africa have been benefiting from the programme. However Mabea says the delay in enrolling Batswana students was because there was no organising body within the country to facilitate the programme.
“In Botswana we did not have a link to the beneficiaries. But since the Botswana Labour Migrant Workers Association has been established, the facilitation would be easier,” Mabea explained in a brief interview shortly after the meeting.
He further claimed that over 800 mines’ worker’s children have already graduated from different fields with the help of the NUM bursaries.
“The graduates are all over the labour migration areas. They studied and some are still studying in different Universities including the University of Botswana,” Mabea further explained.
The prospective students would have to apply for the bursaries though the newly formed union of former miners, Botswana Labour Migrant Worker’s Association (Bolama) which is currently housed by Ditshwanelo, a non-governmental human rights organisation based in Gaborone.
The purpose of the meeting was to inform ex-miners and their beneficiaries on their entitlements and the claiming process. The benefits are quite old as they include pensions for miners who worked in the Anglo American and Induna gold and Asbestos mines in the 1970s and occupational health compensation for those who were injured on the job and those who caught lung diseases such as Tuberculosis from the mines.
The South Africans told the meeting that was attended by multitudes of elders among them widows of the ex miners that billions of Rands remain unclaimed because claims have not yet been made.
“Please keep any piece of paper you brought from South African mines. Tell your families to keep them safe even if you die because we may need them tomorrow. You cannot get any benefits without proof of those papers,” advised the Chairperson of the Southern Africa Miners Association, Moises Uamusse.
Botswana Labour Migrants Association applauded the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs for the work that the Department of Labour and Social Security has done in assisting Botswana Mingrant Ex-miners.
Last week, the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs published a list of potential claimants and called them to report to their district labour offices for possible compensation.
However, Uamusse said it was through the efforts of the new ex-miners association that the government is recognising the need for its people to be compensated.
“Let’s support Bolama for what it is doing. The government of Botswana is going to take recognise you. The government cannot help you if you are not united. Through Bolama, the government will come down to meet you,” Uamusse told the cheering crowd.
Uamusse also represents the Association of Mozambique Miners Union, that is, the Assiciacao de Mineiros Mocambicanos (AMIMO).
Even though the South African union claims there are billions of rands awaiting claims, it seems some will come out with very little compensation and some with nothing at all.
According to the union representatives, some of the older miners contributes about Two Rands (R2) every month towards their pension funds but were not compensated upon retirement. Some may never get compensation as they have either lost or misplaced their documents which are proof of employment in the SA mines.
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.
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.
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.