Sunday, April 18, 2021

Sebetlela quits amid bungled retrenchment exercise

Tati Nickel Mining Company managing director, Sebetlela Sebetlela, has unceremoniously quit his plum post amid a bungled and controversial retrenchment exercise riddled with allegations of flouted procedures.

He is leaving the mine at the end of the month.

He confirmed his pending departure in an interview with the Sunday Standard on Thursday and has preferred to call it a voluntary separation.

“Tati Nickel Mining Company has been engaged in a re-organization programme to respond to a challenging business environment. An aspect of the re-organization has been a manpower rationalization and restructuring exercise designed to produce a fit for purpose structure and manpower levels. It has been necessary to streamline manpower levels through a voluntary separation and retrenchment exercise. To this end, the managing director of Tati Nickel Mining Company Mr Sebetlela O. Sebetlela has decided to leave the company on a voluntary separation basis,” he said.
Sebetlela has been with the mine for three years.

The operations director, Bogdan Kuzhel, has been appointed acting managing director until further notice.

Although Sebetlela maintains that he is voluntarily leaving TNMC, impeccable sources point out that he was forced to resign or else stood to be sacked.

Information turned up by this newspaper is that Sebetlela was forced to resign by the mine’s board of directors on Wednesday on the back of a bungled retrenchment exercise involving 450 workers.

Impeccable sources point out that Sebetlela and Capability Manager, Ezekiel Mooki, recently admitted before the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Peter Siele, and Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, that a number of agreed procedures had not been followed in the implementation of the retrenchment exercise.

Although Sebetela refused to answer questions from this newspaper save for the confirmation that he is leaving the company voluntarily, Siele on the other hand confirmed that he and Kedikilwe held a meeting with TNMC management and the union over the issue of retrenchments.

“I can confirm that we held the meeting with TNMC management, the union and Minister Kedikilwe. I can’t say the mine management had not followed the laid procedures but I do confirm that there was a set of procedures between the mine and the union that were supposed to be followed in the event of a retrenchment exercise. The management had an agreement with the union. We, however, advised them to go and sort out the issues that were raised during our meeting,” said Siele.

However, impeccable sources point out that the admission of the various blunders committed by the mine management is what broke the camel’s back leading to Sebetlela’s forced resignation.

The sources contend that the board felt that the blunders that were committed in the execution of the retrenchment exercise dragged the name of the company into the mud hence their decision to show Sebetlela the door.

It is further alleged that Sebetlela retrenched a senior manager against advice by the board, thus rubbing the board the wrong in the implementation of the whole exercise.

Information reaching this newspaper is that Sebetlela had surrounded himself with his own stooges he had recruited from Debswana, his former employer to the displeasure of the board.
It is also understood that upon joining the TNMC, he was paid over P1 million as a signing fee under a deal shrouded in secrecy.

Sebetlela could not return calls when contacted to confirm or deny whether it was true that he was paid handsomely at the time of his recruitment by TNMC.

The aggrieved retrenched manager (whose name is known to this newspaper) is understood to have lodged a case with the Department of Labour alleging unfair dismissal. The said manager refused to comment on the issue at the time of going to press when contacted for comment.

However, information turned up is that a number of the retrenched employees have complained about the way they were retrenched and have reported their cases with the Department of Labour in Francistown. The numerous cases are yet to be heard according to impeccable sources.

Early this year Sebetlela refuted media reports that he was in the process of leaving TNMC to join BCL following the departure of Motswedi Mphathi who has since joined Botswana Ash.
Sebetlela’s next move could not be ascertained at the time of going to press.

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