Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) and Botswana Labour Migrants Association (BoLAMA) this week applauded De Beers Group for heeding a call made to the mining sector and responded with a sizeable contribution of 20 million towards the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
The unions also called on other mining companies to heed the call and extend a helping hand by contributing to the relief fund that was set to assist mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 or Coronavirus as it is commonly known.
On the 24th March 2020, BoLAMA issued a communique calling on the private sector to support the government of Botswanaâ€™s response efforts to combat Covid-19. The call specifically targeted the mining industry and subsequently called on the private sector for donations to the relief fund which was established on the 26th March 2020.
This week on the 6th April 2020, De Beers Group made an announcement on several of its social media platforms, of a $ 2, 500, 000 donation made across Botswana and Namibia as relief support towards the public health emergency. The amount directed to Botswana was $ 1,700,00 million of which BWP 10 million injected into the Covid-19 Relief Fund and another BWP 10 million slated for logistics, supply and community support.
BMWU and BoLAMA consider this gesture to be indicative of Anglo American/ De Beers Group commitment to responsible mining in line with its Corona-Virus Response Planning Community Guidance of 24th March 2020, by putting communities first.
Anglo America CEO, Mark Cutifani early this year while officiating at Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town said this is a deviation from supply- side CSR, which is often linked with managing reputation and financial benefits without considering impact of interventions.
â€œWe believe this is a show of commitment by De Beers, of its preparedness to deal with the social and economic after- effects of the pandemic on its direct employees and contractors during and post the pandemic. We are confident that Anglo American/ De Beers possess all the experience and technical know- how in dealing with public health emergencies as evidenced by their intervention in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone,â€ he said.
Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) Secretary General, Tebogo Makhale said, â€œIt is a milestone gesture that sets a benchmark of visionary and compassionate leadership that should be emulated and supported by the entire mining industry. It is a commendable step in the right direction towards an effort to save the entire humanity as well as workers of Botswanaâ€.
Botswana Labour Migrants Association (BoLAMA) Executive Secretary, Kitso Phiri stated that private- public partnerships are needed for a strategic and coordinated response to COVID- 19. Phiri said mining as the economic bedrock of the country should play an even bigger role in the fight against the pandemic.
â€œWhat De Beers has done is commendable; they heeded not only the local call from BoLAMA but also the international call by WHO and the ILO to act responsibly amidst the pandemic. We await advice from the sector on what social protection measures they have put in place to mitigate income insecurities and catastrophic household costs of ex-employees and their families. This response is going to require significant financial support from all sectors and we should begin to think around strategies for domestic mobilization of resources to stand a chance of defeating this monster,â€ said Phiri.
The two unions also called on all other mining companies and allied industries to follow the example set by De Beers and also called on the Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM) to give an industry position on social protection strategies for employees impacted by COVID-19 and how they intend to work with government in realizing them.
They also called on the private sector to have a vision beyond their short-term financial interests, by realigning and contributing 50% of their unused CSR budget towards the COVID-19 response as well as urge the government to consider a enacting a law that makes CSR mandatory for all companies.
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.