Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) is mounting a serious undertaking to prevent the sale of Mupane Gold Mine, arguing massive contravention of workers’ rights should the transaction be left to pass.
Mupane Gold Mine, Botswana’s only gold operation is changing ownership from Gallery Gold to Hawks Mining. On the 10th of March 2022 Competition & Consumer Authority Botswana published a merger notice on the transaction, the Union says it has submitted to the Competition Authority “a third-party notice in terms of section 50(3) of the Competition Act of 2018, to interdict the merger notice of Mupane Gold Mine’s acquisition by Hawks Gold Mine from Gallery Gold”.
In the merger notice mid-March, the Authority announced that it had ” received a merger notification for the proposed acquisition of 100% of the total issued share capital in Mupane Gold Mining (Pty) Ltd (“Mupane Gold Mining” or the “Target Enterprise”) by Hawks Mining Company (Pty) Ltd (“Hawks Mining” or the “Acquiring Enterprise”) from Gallery Gold (Pty) Ltd. ”
The Acquiring Enterprise, Hawks Mining, is a limited liability company incorporated in accordance with the Laws of Botswana. It is a special purpose vehicle that was incorporated for purposes of acquiring, amongst others, the Mupane Gold Mine. According to The Competition Authority’s statement Hawks does not directly or indirectly control any enterprise in Botswana. The shareholders and Directors of Hawks Mining are: Cedric Goganang Sam; Julius Rampart; Tobedzani Kuriwa (Batswana); and Bradshaw Zinyemba (Zimbabwean).
In Botswana, Tobedzani Kuriwa directly controls 40% of Asmak Mining Technologies (Pty) Ltd and wholly controls West Havern Investments (Pty) Ltd. Asmak Mining and West Havern do not have previous trading history. Bradshaw Zinyemba directly controls 50% of Bradmart Investments (Pty) Ltd, while Julius directly controls 50% of North Ring Complex (Pty) Ltd. Similarly, both Bradmart Investments and North Ring Complex do not have previous trading history.
The target enterprise Mupane Gold Mining, is a limited liability company incorporated in accordance with the Laws of Botswana, wholly controlled by Gallery Gold (Pty) Ltd incorporated in Australia and owned by Galane Gold Ltd, a publicly traded company incorporated in accordance with the Laws of Ontario whose shares are traded on TSX Venture Exchange. Galane Gold is not controlled by any single shareholder or group of shareholders. In Botswana, Gallery Australia also wholly controls Galane Gold Botswana (Pty) Ltd as well as Shashe Mines (Pty) Ltd.
Additionally, Gallery Australia indirectly controls 100% of The Northern Lights Exploration Company (Pty) Ltd, a limited liability company incorporated in accordance with the Laws of Botswana. The Directors of Mupane Gold Mining are Cedric Goganang Sam (Motswana) and Bradshaw Zinyemba (Zimbabwean).
Highlighting its opposition to the transaction Botswana Mine Workers Union says it has filed the third party notice on public interest grounds, effectively arguing that the intended sale and/or acquisition of Mupane Mine assets is illegal and further that the asset purchase agreement concluded by Mupane and Hawks and subsequently presented before the Competition Authority is contrary to public policy. Further deliberating on the rationale of its interdiction BMWU accused Mupane Gold Mine of past and ongoing systemic corporate violations of mine workers right to health at the Mine ‘s operations.
The Union demands accountability and liability for employees’ future medical costs after “contracting silicosis as a result of over exposure to mine (silica) dust”. The Union wants to know who will take responsibility of latent effects of TB/Silicosis on employees long after the mine owners have left the country. The mine workers union says there was questionable occupational health and safety standards at Mupane Mine operations.
Furthermore the Phikwe Headquartered mining workers mouthpiece says Mupane Gold Mine has failed to disclose to the BMWU its occupational exposure limit for silicosis at its mine operations. Gallery Gold, which has been struggling with plummeting production levels at Mupane is also accused of failure to consult Botswana Mine Workers Union immediately after forming its intention to sell the mine and during its due diligence processes including scoping in terms of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act.
The Union says Mupane Gold Mine’s previous owners have an obligation to make an undertaking that they have set aside funds to compensate employees or cater for their future occupational illnesses associated with gold mining which employees are likely to contract or suffer from long after they have shut down their operations in Botswana.
“Alternatively, the new owners, Hawks Mining as successors in title, should make an undertaking that they have assumed the previous owner’s liability to pay employees future occupational compensations and/or medical care claims. The absence of either renders the transaction illegal and contrary to public policy, submitted BMWU in statement this week.
The country’s sole miners’ union says sanctity of life is one of the cornerstones of safety and health in the mining industry. “It is an overarching right to which all rights are secondary. BMWU is ready to defend its members rights past, present and future and is ready to take this matter all the way to the Competition Act Tribunal if need be,” the Union said on Tuesday buttressing that it will no longer compromise its members right to safety and health in any mining operation.
Prices for cereals or staple foods in Botswana and other Southern African countries continue to rise at a slower pace, following trends in the global markets, according to the latest November 2022 Food Price Monitoring and Analysis by Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
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Botswana Institution Of Engineers (BIE), has last week hosted a gala dinner in which they appreciated engineers who worked tirelessly and with dedication for 10 years from 1983 to steer the BIE to its current status.
The event that was held at the Phakalane Golf Estate had brought together young, experienced and veteran engineers and was held under the theme “Vitalize the dignity and eminence of all professional engineers”.
Explaining the theme, the institution’s treasurer, Thanabalasingam Raveendran said that engineers were looked upon reverentially with respect as the educated but with time it seems to have deteriorated. He indicated that there is a need to change the narrative by all means.
“The BIE exists for the welfare and the betterment of us Botswana engineers, we need to recognize specialised units within our Institution. We Engineers strongly believe in Engineers make it happen” Raveendran said.
He indicated that under the theme they appeal to all engineers to energize, to attain quality of being worthy of honour and respect and to achieve recognized superiority amongst the Society.
Raveendran stated that engineers need to ensure their end product is of good quality satisfying the end users expectations and engineers must be honest in their work.
“Approximately 8000 engineers registered with Engineering Regulatory Board (ERB) are not members of the BIE, engineers need to make every effort to recruit them to BIE” he said.
He alluded that BIE being a society, it currently needs to upgrade itself at par with professional institutions elsewhere like the UK and USA.
He further stated that BIE has to have engineering units of specialised disciplines like Civil/Mechanical/electrical etc
“As President Masisi indicated in his inaugural speech, the young people, who make 60 percent of the population of this country, are the future leaders and therefore investing in them is building the bridge to the future” said Raveendran
Kandima indicated that BIE has a memorandum of Understanding with Engineers Registration Board (ERB), where BIE is a recognised provider of CPD training, mentorship programmes and more importantly IPD undertaking to upgrade the skills and know-how of our engineers.
“For us to achieve our mandate and make worthwhile changes to engineering in Botswana, we have to be totally focused and act with intent” said Kandima.
Furthermore, Stephen Williams, past president of the BIE from 1986-1988 told the engineers that the BIE provides a fertile environment where they can meet, share ideas and grow professionally.
“The BIE is also a nesting place for graduate engineers to learn from their peers and seniors, it also cater for engineering technicians and technologists and so nobody in the technology field is left out” he said.
He further indicated that Botswana Government provides a conductive environment for growth of engineering professionals.
“It must be stated that the Botswana Government recognises the existence of BIE and it can further be stated that the government enables ERB to carry out its mandate as a regulator of engineering professionals” said Williams
He plead with engineering companies to recognize and support BIE as it is the only source of engineering personnel’s for various Industries .
Furthermore, when giving his farewell speech, Michael Pinard , a past president of the institution said how they are viewed as engineers by the general public might be due to some lack of appreciation as to exactly what role they play in the development of the country.
“The BIE slogan is aptly coined-Engineers make it happen, in other words, what man dreams engineers create” Said Pinard.