Monday, September 21, 2020

Tati nickel top management pushed?

The recent resignation of the Tati Nickel General Manager, Piet Kotze, and the early retirement of Divisional Manager Mining, Thuso Dikgaka, has raised eyebrows in some quarters, with some saying that the duo were pushed out of their lucrative positions as the mining giant’s top brass.

The duo leaves at a time when there has been growing discontent among the employees amid allegations of rampant corruption and mismanagement at the Tati Nickel Mine.

Things came to a head recently when Tati Nickel’s mother company, Norilsk Nickel, decided to shelve the Botswana Metal Refineries’ Activox project, rendering thousands of people unemployed and sparking magnanimous protests from employees and civic and political society.

Information reaching The Sunday Standard indicates that the collapse of the Activox project was preceded by a hastily undertaken shuffling of top management posts at both sister companies. Insiders have revealed that the light only dawned on the sacrificed pawns when it became apparent that they had been offered dummy positions at the BMR, which they suspect will undoubtedly be closed down in the near future. This, they say, led a lot of discontent among some people at the mine.

In the past, Tati Nickel, with Dikgaka at the helm of corporate communications and publicity, had to grapple with allegations of corruption, racism and unfair recruitment and procurement procedures, which they vehemently denied. Even members of parliament have, in the past, called for a commission to scrutinize the goings-on at the mine.

Things came to a head after the collapse of the Activox refinery and the proverbial floodgates were opened when, last week, the Botswana Mine Workers Union, in their petition to the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, called for the immediate resignation of a number of Tati Nickel’s top brass.

But Dikgaka, who has had a trailblazing career spanning 27 years in the mining industry, says that he has no regrets and leaves “a happy man”. He has served in many capacities in the mining industry and has worked for, among others, the department if mines, Debswana and Tati Nickel. The 51-year-old Dikgaka told The Sunday Standard that he is happy that he has had such a fulfilling career in the mining industry and has decided to take the back seat and work as a part time farmer and mining consultant in Gaborone.

Dikgaka seems to be already making his presence felt in the community as he was yesterday the chief walker in a sponsored walk that is geared at raising funds to reconstruct Mafenyatlala Hotel.

With hardly a year in office, Tati Nickel General Manager, Piet Kotze, has called it quits and is reportedly serving notice until August 15 when he will be joining a coal mining outfit in South Africa as a director.
On Saturday, the BMWU demanded that the General Manager should resign with immediate effect.

“We demand that the General Manager, Piet Kotze, should cut short his notice and leave immediately. He has brought more misery and suffering to the junior employees of Tati Nickel,” read the petition.

This sparked suspicions that the general manager’s relocation was not necessarily a voluntary one but, rather, may have been fuelled by pressure from the union and discontent on his management style and the lavish lifestyle that the Tati Nickel top brass is said to be enjoying at the expense of junior members of staff.

The BMWU also called for the resignation of Susan Swanicker Tetey, saying that she has no respect for her subordinates and holds qualifications that are abundant locally.

The Divisional Manager, Asset Management, Hugo Truter, was also told to pack his bags as he does not possess the requisite qualifications to be holding his present post. BMWU alleges that Truter has previously been rejected at BCL where he held the position of junior engineer. Divisional Manager, Organizational Capability, Peter Meswele, was accused of being responsible for the crumbling of industrial relations at the mine. A number of other expatriates were also told to pack and go because industrial relations have crumbled since he took over.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.