Debswana Mines’ sales are expected to improve slightly although in 2009 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, things are beginning to look up. “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,” said Kanaimba. Kanaimba revealed that the Managing Director of Debswana, Blackie Marole, had visited the Orapa and Jwaneng Mines to update workers on the steps taken by Debswana to mitigate the effect of the credit crunch on business.
Kanaimba said that Marole promised the workers that he would be working very closely with the Union and announced that all those who were owed their bonuses would be paid once the situation was under control. The company’s troubles, however, do not end there. Recently, a Botswana-based construction company, TKM engineering, is blatantly accusing Botswana’s diamond mining moguls, Debswana, of owing them capital amounting to P60 000. Production at Debswana Mines had been shut down from the end of last year to the 26th of January due to the monetary pressures bought by the economic recession.
TKM’s Tshotlego Kagiso said that his company had entered a 10 million pula contract to build houses for Debswana 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, the company naturally assumed that they, as contractors with pending due payment, would be paid as well. Kagiso says Debswana then went ahead and shut production without proper consultation to the construction company who were in need of the payment.
Ever since the official opening week of business this year, the construction company has, on countless occasions, tried to reach the top management of Debswana to enquire about payment. But their efforts so far had borne no fruit and the company is in desperate need to be attended to for the smooth sailing of business operations between the two and the suppliers. “Every time we called the Debswana offices, we reached either the security guards or the secretaries who could not provide us with the help we need, we were then told to wait until the 26th when business resumes, and they won’t even provide us with personal lines for those in management.
“We can’t afford to wait anymore, our suppliers are constantly on our backs wanting payments but our hands are tied,” says Kagiso. Meanwhile, Kanaimba has revealed that they, as head office, are not yet aware of any companies that have been left unpaid when production at different branches was shut down. “We shall certainly investigate the claim and talk to the Jwaneng branch to find out their side of the story; if it did happen it was not because of the financial crisis but because of the slight time frame between when the company finished construction and when the mines were abruptly shut down,” said Kanaimba. Still on Debswana, Kanaimba has rubbished claims that Debswana might possibly extend the miners’ leave to another six months. “Debswana Mines resumed office as of the 26th of this month,” said Kanaimba.