Thursday, October 1, 2020

Debswana executives face retrenchment

An undisclosed number of Debswana executives, middle managers and junior officers at head office face retrenchment as the company realigns its structure in the wake of pressure from De Beers ? one of the company shareholders.

Debswana Public and Corporate Affairs Manager, Jacob Sesinyi, confirmed this week that as a result of the ?refocusing of the role of Head Office function and the nature of the work delivered, structural changes are being contemplated and it is anticipated that some redundancies may result. However, a key principle will be to make every effort to minimize retrenchments.?

Sesinyi told the The Sunday Standard that the process of briefing all head office employees has begun and consultations with relevant stakeholders will continue to take place in the coming weeks.
Among those who will be affected are Debswana executives as the company changes its management style.

?To meet Debswana?s future challenges of revenue growth and ensure sustainability of the business, the role of Head Office will change,? said a written statement from Sesinyi. ?This will mean less detailed involvement in day-to-day operations, and focusing on guiding the company towards our current and longer term strategic objectives, as well as providing best practice and input to support our current operations.?

It is understood that Debswana Managing Director, Blackie Marole, is already meeting resistance from some senior managers who are worried about their jobs and are considering lobbying Vice President Ian Khama to intervene against the restructuring exercise.

Other areas that will be affected are the Finance Department, Human Resource Department and Supply Chain Management.

?These services are currently offered through duplicate structures in Orapa, Jwaneng and also Gaborone. Improved efficiencies will be achieved through streamlined work processes, new structures and enabling technology,? Sesinyi stated.
The decision to restructure the Debswana Head Office comes in the wake of pressure from De Beers who are unhappy with the company bottom line and were pushing government to be given the Debswana management contract.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals Energy and Water Resources, Okolang Tombale, told The Sunday Standard in an interview last year, ?De Beers felt that they could do better. With the mines going underground and becoming more capital intensive, they think they have the right personnel.?

It is estimated that Debswana may shed up to 100 jobs as it realigns its structure, privatizes some of its operations and out sources services in line with recommendations by Delloitte and Touch?, who were engaged as consultants to help the company?s cost cutting drive.

In a written response to queries from the Sunday Standard, Sesinyi stated that, ?roles focusing on high volume transactional work in the Finance, Human Resources and Supply Chain Management departments will be incorporated into the new Shared Services entity, which is currently in its developmental stage.?

About the time when Debswana appointed Delloitte and Touche to help in the company cost cutting drive, De Beers was lobbying the government to replace the current Debswana citizen managers with a De Beers management contract.

In an earlier interview, Tombale confirmed that although his office should have been the first port of call, De Beers?s side stopped him and approached Vice President Ian Khama with their request that they should be given the Debswana management contract. Debswana accounts for close to 70 percent of De beers? revenue.

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