The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) will petition Parliament on Thursday about the recent spate of closures and job losses across the mining sector.
BCP secretary general, Kesitegile Gobotswang said Discovery Metals Limited (DML) Boseto Mine closed recently, throwing up to 800 workers into the streets, while a diamond cutting and polishing firm in Serowe ceased operations and axed more than 300 jobs. “The process of communication was not followed,” he told a press briefing yesterday.
“The Botswana Congress Party condemns the forced evacuation of unsuspecting workers and the use of security forces to effect this drastic action. “This evacuation amounted to reckless and inhumane disregard of the rights of workers,” said Gobotswang.
He said failure to communicate means that the declaration of insolvency at Boseto “disempowered the workers and inflicted maximum damage to their rights and entitlements”. He said DML’s actions represent a common practice in the mining industry in the country, where employers exploit loopholes in the legislative framework to recklessly infringe on the basic rights of workers.
Gobotswang said a weak legislative framework had created weak regulatory institutions. “These weak regulatory institutions have therefore become bystanders as the brazenly exploitative practices of companies in the mining and manufacturing sectors become the norm. “Too many industrial companies or enterprises have failed and collapsed in Botswana, causing major flight of capital in some cases,” he said.
He said prevailing problems in the diamond and polishing enterprises call into question the role and influence of government.
In addition, he said it appears that government continues to be a helpless bystander, unable to play an effective oversight role to ensure effective beneficiation and protection of the rights and interests of the workers.
He said this failure provides strong evidence of government’s lack of political will to “entrench meaningful beneficiation and reduce Botswana’s economic vulnerability”.