Debswana senior managers are accusing their Managing Director Blackie Marole of placing De Beers interests ahead of their own and those of Botswana.
This is a new twist in the ongoing efforts by Marole to slice down the layers of manpower at Debswana head office.
About thirty managers, who are affected by the ongoing restructuring at the headquarters of the world’s leading diamond miner, are, as a result, planning to petition Debswana Board Chairman, Akolang Tombale, to register their dissatisfaction with how Marole is executing the retrenchments.
It has also emerged that there are serious differences between Marole and his Deputy, Len Makwinja, and the managers are shrewdly capitalizing on the differences between the two men by rallying behind Makwinja in the ongoing retrenchment exercise which promises to be the bloodiest in the company’s history.
Relations between Marole and Makwinja are also said to have soured as a result of the Managing Director’s close love affair with De Beers, a company he worked for after he retired from government and before he was appointed Debswana MD.
In their letter to the Managing Director, the ‘E’ Band managers at head office state that while they are not against retrenchments, they are against the way the MD is carrying out the process.
They further state that while they are not against the packages they are being seduced to take, they find it awkward that such had to be negotiated for them by the trade union.
They say as managers they have to negotiate on their behalf.
They also point out in their correspondence that consultations have been too minimal given the magnitude of the actions by the Managing Director. Managers feel that instead of consulting them the MD approached them with a school head teacher mentality of giving instructions.
Nationalist and potentially racist sentiments have also come into play.
Under currents point to a simmering resentment among citizens that their retrenchments are being spearheaded by a white expatriate human resource manager who is not only about to leave Debswana, but also whose allegiance to Botswana and the country’s interests cannot be trusted.
Also a source of consternation is the short term contract that management wants the managers now in the Permanent and Pensionable category to opt for. The short term contract disadvantages them.
Debswana spokesperson, Jacob Sesinyi, confirmed that some issues have been raised with managers but said the media has blown the differences out of proportion.
“It is natural that a process like this brings about anxiety, uncertainty, insecurity and even panic. Concerns have been addressed to management and they are being addressed internally,” said Sesinyi.
“I would be out of order to raise the issues in the media. I am, however, confident that an amicable solution will be reached because it is in the interest of all the parties,” said Sesinyi.
He said most of the information fed the media far has been either outright wrongful or exaggerated.
“What is important is to understand that this kind of restructuring is not unique to Debswana. Companies all over the world implement it sometime.”
He would not talk about the state of relations between Marole and Makwinja, which are said to be making the ongoing fracas even more uncontrollable.