Debswana senior management are grappling for damage control measures following revelations that management at the world’s leading diamond miner planted secret surveillance cameras in one of the toilets used by employees at Orapa mine.
The employees saw the camera and immediately lodged a complaint with management.
The development has created a publicity crisis at the Group.
So serious is the matter that the Debswana Managing Director, Blackie Marole, had to brief the Board of Directors about the issue before instituting a formal investigation on Friday.
Marole has also dispatched a carefully knitted brief to all Debswana employees wrought to appease and cool down tempers of the annoyed employees, who feel that the company has this time gone overboard.
Debswana Head of Public Relations, Jacob Sesinyi, confirmed the enquiry but said it’s a “very sensitive matter,” as the issue is now a subject of investigation.
“The matter is still under investigation, therefore, it is only logical to allow the process to be completed,” said Sesinyi.
Sunday Standard, however, is in possession of copies of formal correspondence from Managing Director Marole to all members of staff conceding that the “Treatment Plant employees have filed a grievance, which is being treated according to the mine’s well established grievance procedures.”
Perhaps, as a clear appreciation of the gross violation of rules by his company, Marole does not state that the surveillance cameras were placed at the toilet, opting, instead, to say the camera was placed in a “particular area.”
“Debswana Management has instituted an investigation following the lodging of a complaint about the existence of a security camera in a particular area of the Completely Automated Recovery Plant in Orapa,” said Marole.
Although it is not known when exactly the camera was installed, Debswana insiders are pointing a finger at one of the shareholders, De Beers.
It was the De Beers technical team that managed and supervised the expansion of Orapa plants in 2000, under the ambitions Orapa 2000 Project.
At the time, the top management had also not been localized.
The incident has provided a whip to the Mine Workers Union which has been at loggerheads with management since a strike action two and a half years ago that saw close to five hundred of the union members sacked.
“It just goes to show the kind of people that they are. Toilets are a private place where people relive themselves. But Debswana Management will stop at nothing in their efforts to ridicule and belittle the company employees,” said the Mine Workers Union Chairman, Chimbidzani Chimidza.
He said there can never be any justifiable excuse for spying on the employees to an extent of using covert cameras at their toilets.
“It’s all about the mentality of Debswana Management,” said Chimidza.
He said his Union will be following the issue carefully to ensure that the matter is not “sidestepped.”
“They are very good at passing the buck,” said Chimidza, referring to both Debswana and De Beers.
Efforts to reach the Head of Public Relations at De Beers in Johannesburg, South Africa Mr. Tom Tweed, proved futile.
Head of De Beers Botswana Public Relations, Modipe Nkwe, was also in the dark about the matter.
But Sunday Standard can confirm that together with the Debswana Board of Directors, De Beers Botswana Chief Executive, Sheila Khama, has been briefed by Marole about the impending crisis so that she could relay the message to her bosses in Johannesburg.