Friday, October 23, 2020

BCL mine has its back against the wall

Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West, Kavis Kario, is not happy with the way things are going at BCL copper/nickel Mine.

By far, BCL is the largest employer and economic powerhouse in Selibe Phikwe.
And for the last few months, the BCL mine has been making headlines with all sorts of accusations being leveled against management by the workers and unions.

Kario, himself a former senior officer with the mine, says when he participated in the calls over the years for localization of management he had no idea that things would turn out so bad.

Addressing meetings at Selibe Phikwe recently, Kario went as far as to say things were now worse than they were when the Mine was under the management of expatriates.

“This is not what we had expected.”

Kario said the management of BCL was always too happy to sack employees.

“They have devised means to turn employees against one another. Nobody at the mine feels secure anymore. People are fired under flimsy, drummed up charges,” said Kario.

Jack Tlhagale, the Secretary General of the Botswana Mine Workers Union, also thinks BCL is on the brink of total collapse. In an interview with The Sunday Standard, Tlhagale could not hide his contempt for the mine management who he accused of indiscretion.

The mine has lately been hit by a spate of industrial relations disputes.

Kario and Tlhagale’s comments come at a time when there is a standoff between BCL Mine and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime.
DCEC wants to investigate allegations of corruption at the Mine’s Human Resource department.

But Mine management, at the advice of their attorneys Collins, Newman & Company, have told DCEC that, as a private entity in which government has a minority stake below 51 percent, the law does not empower DCEC to carry out such investigations.
BCL Mine is not new to controversy.

The controversy started when Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Botsalo Ntuane, brought a question to parliament asking the Minister of Labour Moeng Pheto to disclose the salary and perks of the mine General Manager, Montwedi Mphathi.

Minister Pheto declined, saying Mphathi’s salary was a private matter that could not be discussed in a public forum such as parliament.

For many years, BCL has been enjoying grants from government and the European Union when the company could not even break even.

But recently, with international commodity prices picking on the back of demands in China, India, the United States and the Middle East, the company has been making a killing.

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