Debswana sales are expected to improve slightly in 2009 although it will not reach the previous year’s sales. The company had recently been faced with a deep crisis caused by the international credit crunch when they were not able to sell any diamonds in November 2008.
Ester Kanaimba, Debswana’s Group Manager for Public and Corporate Affairs, revealed to the Sunday Standard that despite the December shutdown, the situation is beginning to improve.
“It is expected that the situation will improve slightly because we were able to make sales in December and January even though they were very low,” revealed Kanaimba.
Kanaimba said Managing Director of Debswana, Blackie Marole, had visited the Orapa and Jwaneng mines to update workers on the steps taken by the company to mitigate the effect of the credit crunch on operations.
Marole has promised workers that he would be working very closely with the Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) and promised that workers who were owed bonuses would be paid once the situation comes under control.
Debswana’s troubles, however, do not end there. Recently, a Botswana-based construction company, TKM engineering, accused Debswana of owing them money amounting to P600 000 for the work done.
Tshotlego Kagiso, TKM’s Managing Director, explained that his company had entered into a P10 million contract with Debswana to build 11 family ‘C’ houses in Jwaneng.
The company then completed the stipulated buildings at the beginning of December. It had allegedly even handed over the keys of the new houses to Debswana.
Payment had been made in installments up to that point, until there was about P600 000 left to be paid.
Upon hearing news that Debswana would be amongst the hardest hit by the international recession and that workers would be given a month off paid leave, TKM naturally assumed that they, as contractors with pending due payment, would be paid as well.
Kagiso told Sunday Standard that Debswana then went ahead and shut down production without proper consultation with the construction company which is in need of payment.
Since the official opening week of business this year, the construction company has allegedly tried, on countless occasions, to reach the top management of Debswana to enquire about payment, to no avail.
“We can’t afford to wait anymore, our suppliers are constantly on our backs wanting payments but our hands are tied,” said Kagiso.
Meanwhile, Kanaimba has said that they had investigated the matter with the help of the Jwaneng branch and had found a few misleading statements that could have resulted in the other company’s misunderstanding.
The company had been contracted to finish construction on the 11th of May 2008, which was later revised to August 2008, but the work was completed in December 2008.
Kanaimba has admitted to an outstanding amount owed to TKM.
However, to Kanaimba’s understanding, Debswana owes TKM P165 402.33 and not P600 000 as Kagiso claimed.
“Note that the figure is not as high as they claim; in fact, it is less an advance payment we gave them last year when they were experiencing cash flow problems. We had made them an advance payment of P460 000 to complete the works program,” said Kanaimba.