Friday, February 26, 2021

The new Debswana MD has his job cut out for him

The new Managing Director of Debswana Diamond Company says his main priority is to enhance the company’s cost efficiencies.

Speaking to the Sunday Standard, Jim Gowans said he will be reviewing Debswana operations to make sure the company’s assets provide the best returns.

Gowans, who was formerly the Chief Executive of De Beers Canada, said he has so far had audiences with President Ian Khama, minister of Minerals Ponatshego Kedikilwe and Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance and development Planning, Sekwakwa.

Sekwakwa is also a director of Debswana Board.

All the Government officials stressed to him the big impact Debswana had on Government’s overall finances.

Gowans, who took over from Blackie Marole, said he considered himself a “short term person” who will be required to put in place a succession plan that would run the company beyond his tenure.
According to him, the other challenge facing Debswana is that the mines are getting deeper and costlier to run.

“My goal is to make the organisation self-challenging all the time. People should learn to get into other’s experiences.”

He said in that regard he will explore the possibility of attaching Debswana technical staff to other mines across the world so that they could gain international experience.
Speaking of the expectations on him as he assumes what easily passes off as the most powerful, influential and sometimes most demanding job in Botswana’s corporate sector, Gowans said in the main he does not feel the pressure of expectations.

“My job is for Debswana to operate as best as it can. Both the President and the minister have made it clear Debswana should operate at world class level in terms of matrix,” he said.
He said in the short time that he has been with Debswana he has found staff “quite engaged” adding that “we have quite an educated workforce here”.

The new MD has already visited Jwaneng Mine where he spent a week as well as the Orapa and Letlhakane mines where he also spent another week.

Meanwhile De Beers, which has a 50 percent shareholding in Debswana has on Friday released its financials, which indicate a healthier than expected profit; the first in two years.

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