Botswana Congress Party (BCP) will on Thursday present a petition to parliament over the closure of Discovery Metals and other mines.
The objectives of the petition include highlighting the plight of workers at BOSETO mine in Maun and Teemane Manufacturing Botswana in Serowe, to call public attention to the broad structural failure of government to regulate and provide oversight in the mining sector and in the diamond cutting and polishing enterprises and to sponsor a private members Bill in Parliament to amend the Employment Act and provide for the protection of the workers’ rights in cases of retrenchments and or insolvency.
Speaking at press conference on Monday, BCP secretary general Kesitegile Gobotswang said the mining sector and its diamond manufacturing industries in Botswana have experienced high levels of closure and job losses, striking a major blow to the country’s efforts to diversify the economy, improve beneficiation and create sustainable employment opportunities.
“It is against this background that the Botswana Congress Party will be petitioning parliament. BCP asserts that there are long standing structural issues that underpin the closure of the mines and the retrenchment/job losses,” he said. The party noted that on the 27th February 2015, BOSETO mining company used the services of armed security forces to evacuate unsuspecting workers off the work premises and there had been no attempt to communicate with the workers on this action.
“Because due process of communication was not followed, 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 an inhumane disregard of the rights of workers,” Gobotswang said.
Following the unlawful evacuation, the workers were informed that Discovery Metals Limited was under bankruptcy or insolvency condition. The BCP is of the view that it could have been a wise move if a communication channel was set up to facilitate engagement of all parties to agree on the fairest course of action.
“Failure to communicate means that the declaration of insolvency disempowered the workers and inflicted maximum damage to their rights and entitlements,” Gobotswang further argued that a weak legislative framework creates 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.”