FRANCISTOWN: The problems besieging cashstrapped Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM) and students under its scholarship seem to be getting dire.
The latest news coming from BCM, if true, indicate that BCM will show the students the door after it indicated that it would give the students letters terminating their scholarships in the next few days before the end of the year.
Although the chief executive officer (CEO) of BCM Charles Siwawa is denying that his entity is about to terminate the students’ scholarships, learners who attended a highly charged meeting addressed by Siwawa at the Francistown College of Technical and Vocational Education (FCTVE) on Monday this week point to the contrary.
Some of the students who spoke to this publication about their ‘deepening gloom’ said that Siwawa told them their scholarships will be terminated before the end of the year and thereafter government will takeover and sponsor them.
The students say that they find it difficult to believe what Siwawa told them because, except for his words, he did not bring any documentation to show that indeed government will sponsor them after BCM terminates their scholarships.
They said that Siwawa was just ‘clutching at straws’ because although he mentioned that government would sponsor them next year, he did not state whether the deal between government and BCM was conclusive.
“Siwawa told us that government would absorb us next year although he also told us that he is not sure that the deal will materialise. So as of now, we are not sure about our future. What we are sure about is that Siwawa told us that BCM would terminate our sponsorships before the end of the year. He
The students added that after the end of their meeting with Siwawa, they caucused and came up with a resolution to take their issue with BCM to the department of labour then ultimately to the Industrial Court.
They said that they resolved to take BCM to the Industrial Court because it had not honoured its sponsorship contract they entered into.
However, on Wednesday morning, one of the students told this reporter that he received a call from the Department of Labour informing them that the department will no longer handle the matter after they registered it with the department. The student said that the labour officer told him that it could not handle the matter because it involves the students and their sponsors.
“The labour officer told me that they only handle matters involving employees and their employers or vice versa,” the student added.
When contacted for comment, Siwawa admitted having addressed the learners on Monday adding that there would be a silver lining at the end of the matter.
“The students unfortunately do not understand that we are dealing with a very delicate matter. We are doing all we can to solve this situation in the best interest of the learners. We cannot leave them in the lurch. We are currently in negotiations with a third party to continue to sponsor the students next year,” said an optimistic Siwawa.