Saturday, December 3, 2022

Debswana employees allege purging

The restructuring at Debswana, dubbed Operations Review, is stained by allegations of purging of progressive citizens who hold managerial positions.

Inside sources at Jwaneng Mine are accusing management of what they call “constructive dismissal.”
About ten young managers are said to have left under the circumstances.

Frustrated by being offered downgraded positions, some have opted to resign from the company while others have opted for better retrenchment packages.

So serious are the allegations that one manager, whose position was rendered redundant, took up the matter with President Ian Khama. It was after Khama had intervened that the outgoing Debswana Managing Director, Blackie Marole, instructed Jwaneng Mine Management to reinstate the manager in question.

The Sunday Standard has it on good authority that the manager turned down his reinstatement offer and opted to negotiate a better exit package with the diamond company.

Debswana is alleged to be struggling to fill certain managerial positions left by those who were given severance packages. This has given rise to widespread speculation that the company may be having intentions to delocalise certain key positions in its quest to turn the rich Jwaneng Mine into a world class diamond operation.

General Manager Balisi Bonyongo could not be reached for comment.

The Group Public Relations and Communications Manager, Esther Kanaimba-Senai, while admitting that certain positions are still to be filled, denies the alleged purging of southerners at Debswana operations, saying those who left the company did so because Debswana offers handsome separation packages. She says when employees were released, the company followed guidelines of policies and agreements.

According to her, the individuals who were involved in the placement of employees are senior members of Debswana who are highly competent to make objective decisions in line with Debswana corporate governance principles.

“The Debswana Voluntary Separation and Retrenchment packages are relatively attractive. As such we have realized that employees tend to opt for Voluntary Separation packages with a view to starting businesses or looking for other jobs whilst their invested separation benefits grow. The Company’s Code of Conduct and Business Ethics forbids any kind of victimization, intimidation or retaliation. Debswana also has an Ethics Hotline which can be used by employees or members of the public to report any breach in corporate governance. The Ethics Hotline is run by an independent external organisation where employees who have information relating to any unethical conduct are encouraged to report anonymously. Investigations are always carried out and the necessary action taken,” says Kanaimba-Senai.

“Within the various processes we go through, whether it is resourcing, opening of Voluntary Separation application period, or any other, Debswana is guided by, amongst others, best practice Policies and Procedures, Employment Act and Union and Management Agreements. As such the process of releasing employees follows well defined policies and agreements that are in line with best practice,” she adds.

The company says more than 75% of the positions for executive and management have been filled by internal candidates while 20% of executive and managerial positions remain vacant.
“We are still in the process of interviewing and finding the right candidates. In some instances, we are already at the stage where offers are being considered,” says Kanaimba-Senai.

The company says the restructuring entailed a review of the operating model and high level business processes, including the identification of appropriate departmental structures to deliver on its current and future commitments.

“One of the Operations Review project deliverables was to ensure that there are optimal staffing levels in all departments with the right skills and competencies. Given our role in the economy of Botswana, it is imperative that we conduct regular reviews to ensure that we perform to the best of our ability to mine the resource and enrich the nation. We are shaping the future of our Company, says the spokesperson.

The company says departmental structures were developed by each department according to how the structures would support the new business model and how they want to safely deliver superior production efficiently and effectively in future.

“After developing the new departmental structures, which will be more agile and efficient, thus enabling Debswana to become a high performance company, the next step was to evaluate all the jobs and go through a process of analysing, writing and grading all the jobs. Grading of jobs is a separate exercise from placing people into the new structures. In the few instances where jobs were downgraded the incumbents are not disadvantaged in terms of benefits as per Debswana policy and the Employment Act. Placing of people, including top performers, is carried out by a panel who follow a well developed best practice resourcing framework. Underlying the resourcing process is the company’s principle to preserve jobs, to the extent that is possible, but at the same time enabling the Company to achieve its objectives,” Kanaimba-Senai emphasizes.

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