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BMWU endorses BONU concerns over the Presidential Covid-19 Task Team and De Beers Front Liners Initiative

Frontliners busy at work PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG.
Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) supports the sentiments expressed by Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) in their press release dated January 9, 2021, in which they challenged the motive and intended outcome of the De Beers Group and Presidential Covid-19 Frontline Workers Appreciation Initiative.

Several important issues were raised by BONU, including, the discriminative nature of the initiative, its exclusion of other disciplines working in the frontlines, public participation in an otherwise suspect exercise, allocation of COVID-19 funds towards endeavours that do not attend to the immediate needs of our public health system, the perceived bias on nominees and the competitive nature of the initiative.

The initiative itself, whose entire process is centered around the solicitation of votes from the public to award frontline workers, one carat diamond from De Beers and Wi-Fi from Mascom defeats the purpose of the initiative’s true intent.

The initiative bears the hallmarks of a raffle, a winner takes all competition, where there will be winners and losers. Nothing positive can come out of this.

There is a need to change its modus operandi. This we believe goes against what De Beers Group stands for and derogates from its core values, of making life

‘brilliant’ and building trust amongst communities.

As a key stakeholder of De Beers Group, we appreciate the company’s efforts providing support to government in various Covid-19 related initiatives. De Beers has done ground breaking things since the pandemic was declared a public health emergency of international concern however this current Frontline Workers Initiative with the Presidential COVID-19 Task Team pales in comparison with some of great work the company has supported in South Africa, Namibia and Canada. We call on De Beers to reconsider its participation in this initiative.

We call the company to recall its values, “listen before you act”. Stakeholders are expressing their concerns and we implore De Beers Group to listen and advise the COVID-19 Task Team to change tact and revise how they intend to run this Initiative. Underlying this initiative is the appreciation of Front-Line Workers across all disciplines not the glorification of a chosen few.


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