The resignation of the former Managing Director of Debswana, Blackie Marole, is expected to save about 1300 jobs, which would otherwise have resulted due to the implementation of the Operation Review Project (ORP).
“We believe that his stepping down will come as a blessing in disguise to the workers because he never cared about the impact the ORP had on them,” said Jack Tlhagale, Secretary General of Botswana Mine Workers Union. “We hope that the new MD will stop ORP in its tracks, therefore saving a lot of people’s jobs.”
Tlhagale had in the past said that the company was giving an inaccurate job loss estimation because more job losses were to be expected from the privatization and outsourcing initiative that the company would be carrying out alongside the ORP.
The union reveals that it has never really seen Marole’s importance in the negotiation procedures between them and the company management because he was pro-shareholders and never about the man on the ground.
The Trade Union earlier this year petitioned Marole against the implementation of the ORP to no avail because months later, the MD wrote a memo in which he notified his employees that the review was well underway.
They however stated that a lot of their hopes will be pinned on the new MD whom they feel will have the power to prevent the job losses that are to be expected from the project.
For the past two years, Debswana has been consistently portrayed in bad light over a range of issues, including how it handled the global recession.
During the first quarter of 2008 when the company was reportedly affected by the global recession, production levels were cut down; some mine workers were relieved of their duties while some were forced to take early retirement packages.
This was also followed by salary increments disputes that led to workers demonstrations at different Debswana plants.
The attention grabbing Nchindo case also painted the company, especially the board, in a bad light as even Magistrate Lot Moroka critised them of negligence.
The company has also struggled to find a permanent General Manager (GM) for Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa Mines (OLM) after long serving employee Seb Sebetlela left the company for Tati Nickel. For two years, the position has been filled by temporary GMs.
Meanwhile, the press has been publishing ‘classified’ information known only to those attending the closed meetings, open only to shareholders. Most of what has been reported has in time turned out to be factual.
The company has since launched a security breech investigation as to who amongst them is leaking information to the press.
This past week, Debswana Group Manager of Public and Corporate Affairs, Ester Kanaimba-Senai released a statement in which she said that, “There has been a growing trend this year that key confidential corporate information solely meant for employees and various Board of Directors committees is leaked to the media and other third parties, Even personnel information has been leaked to the media who should not have that information.
“Management takes this matter very seriously since it poses a threat to our business, our reputation and, in some cases, even the security of some individuals. Whether this is done with an ulterior motive to tarnish the name of the Company and its leadership or to achieve the sectarian objectives of some individual(s), it is a concern that this has happened,” said Kanaimba.
The union is, however, skeptical of Debswana’s intentions. They said that Debswana is a public company and should therefore have transparency in order to observe good governance.
According to the union, if the company was transparent, it wouldn’t be worried about having a leak because the information that the media has will already be public knowledge.
“The question then remains: what is it they are hiding?” asked Tlhagale.