SELEBI-PHIKWE: The Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) will petition government in demonstrations that will be held in major villages around the SPEDU region over the slow pace of reviving the local economy.
The petition will further demand that government investigate the findings of the BCL liquidator Nigel Dixon- Warren’s report on the closure of the BCL mine and take proper actions against those implicated.
The decision to petition, according to the union’s general secretary Moffat Ramokate, was taken by the national executive committee and also endorsed by the union national council in November last year. Preparations will commence immediately after the Labour Day Commemorations on May 1, 2018.
“We are petitioning government as the sole shareholder at the BCL mine. After May Day, our focus will now be on the petitions. We will mobilise ex-BCL employees around the villages through Kgotla meetings,” he said.
Ramokate said the union is a stakeholder in SPEDU but they are never consulted on any efforts to revive the economy.
He said last year, the union only heard about companies coming to set up in town that are anticipated to create employment opportunities even for ex-mine employees. He however, said that they had hoped that by now there should be signs of those coming to open for business. “We fear that those talks were just political and may not materialise,” he said.
He added that the decision to petition emanated from the observation that reasons advanced by government for the mine closure are far from reality. He said the community in the SPEDU region are the first victims of the economic impact of the mine closure, hence it is necessary for them to be given the right information hence the petition.
“We are not saying that government should re-open the mine, but we are saying government must allow investors who are interested to do so. We now believe that the government is a stumbling block in the reopening of the BCL mine,” he said.
Ramokate further said they regret that the issue of safety is one of the reasons the mine was closed down.
He said to view the mine as a safety hazard is unfounded and are just assumptions
“Many mines in the southern region are more dangerous to work for than the BCL mine. Initially, we were made to understand that the issue that led to mine closure was due to Norlisk debt, but it has shifted to safety issues amongst others. This makes us to believe that government negotiates in bad faith and we question the credibility of the government,” he said.
He said for the government to always state that they have been assisting the mine to survive with a certain amount of money over the years has the potential to scare away the investors. He said the union also believes that the report that was released by the mine’s last year should inform government.
“Government must address that report because it contains all the reasons why the mine closed down. The mine has been run by taxpayers’ money, hence the government must account. If the government fails to investigate the findings of the report, then we are bound to believe that she has a hand in what happened to the mine,” he said.
Meanwhile, the union is in consultations with AON Pension Fund to consider possibilities of the Fund releasing all the monies to ex-employees. Ramokate said this is in view of the fact that the ex-employees are facing civil imprisonment by commercial banks as a result of un-serviced loans.
It is reported that ex-mine employees owe P11million to one of the local banks branch.
“We will present the issue to the AON Board of Directors during its annual general meeting for them to decide on the matter,” he said. AON became BCL’s pension administrators in June 2011 and the mine closed down in 2016.