Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Debswana Citizen Empowerment Policy: Workers union casts doubt

Botswana Mine Workers Union has expressed reservations on the anticipated creation of 20 000 jobs by Debswana mining company through the citizen economic empowerment policy (CEEP).

This comes after President Mokgweetsi Masisi announced that the company aims to deliver a shared citizen spend value of twenty billion and create 20 000 jobs by 2024.

Botswana Mine Workers Union President Joseph Tsimako said although it is imperative to commend the ambition of creating 20 000 jobs, it should however be noted that the policy has proven to be a waste as most Batswana recently lost their jobs at Majwe mining company.

Tsimako stated that some employees at Majwe mining ended up working for other sub contracted companies with reduced salaries.

“We have seen how this policy has failed to produce the intended results because some employees ended up losing their salaries for lower salaries while others had their allowances cut. Clearly there is no meaningful employment with this policy because when Debswana outsource some of their entities they will be giving them to Batswana to run them but their employment will not have any meaningful benefit,” added Tsimako.

He further said the mining sector has the potential to pay its employees well.

“There are so many mines that will be opened soon and that can create sustainable jobs beyond the set target of 20 000,”said Tsimako.

Tsimako also said they have on many occasions engaged both the responsible Minister and the President about their reservations with the policy stating that they have not been given a proper response.

For his part, Botswana Chambers of Mines Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Charles Siwawa said he has no doubt that the policy will produce the intended results, adding that citizen companies will be selected based on qualifications and experience.

“First and foremost, we should not drop efficiencies and productivity because those are the most important things. Giving unqualified people a share in the value chain will be unfortunate. There is need to ensure that these jobs are given to qualifying Batswana because they are there and create employment,” said Siwawa.

He further said the reason behind the policy is to have as many Batswana to do the outsourced jobs in order to create employment.

“The figure is there, it has been put to us as the mining industry. We should be looking at something close to 20 000 and it is feasible,” added Siwawa.

He also said whilst the target was assigned to Debswana, part of the project has landed in their office and they remain confident that the policy will benefit citizen companies and its local employees.

President’s Mokgweetsi Masisi’s ruling party came under fire from the opposition, with the ruling party accused of failing to include citizens in the mainstream economy after five decades of uninterrupted rule. Masisi conceded that the country’s economy was not in the hands of indigenous citizens and promised sweeping changes if his party is returned to power.

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