Localisation creates rift at Mupane Mine

Mupane Gold Mine PIC: MINING.COM
Mupane Gold Mine PIC: MINING.COM

FRANCISTOWN: Mupane Gold Mine (MGM) employees are accusing the company of acting in bad faith by not localising two key positions within the company as per agreement with the union (Botswana Mine Workers (BMWU).

The failure to honour the agreement has reportedly caused tension between the employees and some senior mine officials. What irks employees the most is that the company allegedly retained expatriates occupying the positions of commercial manager and senior mine surveyor that were supposed to be localised by June.

The decision was made without communicating anything with those who were supposed to take over as part of the company’s localisation plan.  Additionally, even BMWU general secretary , Mbinganyi Ramokate speaking on behalf of the employees, told Mmegi in an interview this week that, ‘the mine appears to have totally ditched’ plans to localise the two top management posts.

“The company has not communicated anything with us.  But it appears as if it has retained two expatriate workers contrary to the localisation agreement we signed (with the mine) in 2017. I have reliable information that the said employees are still working at the mine,” Ramokate said.


Furthermore, he  said; “We have been fighting with the mine to localise some key positions for some years and it reluctantly obliged. In  the case of the commercial manager and senior mine surveyor we believe that citizens who have been working on an understudy basis are ready to take over. 

If the mine does not believe that they are ready to take over our view is that the job market many Batswana who are ready to take over. The mine should go for them as an alternative instead of retaining foreigners.” 

Employees have alleged that the mine is reluctant to localise the two positions because they are perceived to be very strategic. They allege that the mine management is of the view that giving the two positions to locals might put at risk some of its dealings in future particularly with the government.

Even the union has in the past insinuated that the company does not want to localise some posts because it holds a stern view that locals cannot be trusted with crucial information in relation to the organisation’s trading. 

In addition, a few years ago the company and the union engaged on a protracted battle over issues surrounding localisation of top posts. The union said that the mine preferred Zimbabweans who are very cheap while the latter maintained that locals are not skilled enough to manage a gold mining operation. The company would later localise some of the key management posts.

“We will soon meet the labour commissioner to establish why the two employees are still part of the mine setup legally because to the best of our knowledge they should have left in June. We will determine what action we take depending on the outcome of our meeting with the labour commissioner,” Ramokate said yesterday.

However in a written response, Mupane general manager Cedric Sam told Mmegi that on assessment of the individual development plans (IDP) for those who were placed on an understudy basis for the positions of commercial manager and senior mine manager, it was determined that they are not ready to assume the positions. He would not go into  details on the nature of the new contract offered to the expatriate employees.

He also defended the company’s decision not to alternatively look for suitable candidates in the job market as recommended by BMWU.

“The mine is committed to ensuring that the incumbents assume these positions, hence there is no need to source from the external market.” 

He added, “It is clearly stated in our localisation plan that Mupane will not localise some post until it is confident that the citizen applicant is competent, meets all set criteria in the relevant position and can display the skills and performance necessary to satisfy the requirements of the operation.”

Sam averred that the company’ has been committed to localising top posts even before it signed a localisation plan with BMWU in 2017. According to him all management posts are occupied by Batswana with the exception of the positions of commercial manager and senior mine surveyor.

“Together with BMWU, we formulated individual development plans signed by both parties and we have been committed to these plans and ensuring transparency as well as progress on the plans,” he said, contrary to Ramokate’s position that the mine has not been transparent in relation to implementing the localisation plan.

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