Wednesday, October 27, 2021

UDC opens a non-partisan front to save the beleaguered BCL

The opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change has put forward a set of proposals of what they say could be a starting point towards saving the Selibe Phikwe copper and nickel mining house, BCL.

Addressing the media, Ndaba Gaolathe of UDC made a set of points which he said should worry all Batswana.

Key of those, he said is the looming collapse of BCL if nothing is done to save the mining house.

He said should BCL collapse the economy of Botswana would retreat into a recession.

In that regard he said the entire business model of BCL warranted a review.

He said the P1 billion facility recently extended BCL was totally inadequate.

He said with the little information that UDC has, at least P6 billion was needed to turn BCL around and also keep creditors at bay.

“We are the first to admit that the copper grade produced by BCL is of low quality. But still there have been many failures at different levels that were avoidable.”

Gaolathe said the biggest risk that BCL mine posed was not confined to its employees but the national  economy which he said would tilt into recession were BCL to collapse.

While he strived to stay clear of party politics, he said it was unavoidable to point out that BCL was victim of lapses some of which are internal, but also external.

He was particularly scathing about government lapses which he said occurred at multiple levels.

Botswana Government owns 100 percent of BCL.

H e said government shortcomings were at regulatory level, at shareholder level and also at policy making level.

He said the BCL Board should be held accountable for some of the troubles bedeviling BCL.

The Board is appointed by Government.

“BCL does not have a high impact Board,” said Gaolathe.

Particular reference was made to the outgoing BCL Chairman Dr Akolang Tombale.

Gaolathe said it was a wrong decision to appoint Tombale as BCL Chairman when the man was at the same time proving inadequate turning around Botswana Meat Commission where he is the Chief Executive.

“We do not want to embarrass anyone, we are just stating facts,” said Gaolathe.

On another matter he said workers welfare is something that BCL has taken lightly.

He said as a result the mining house has seen a loss of key operational personnel, especially senior engineers.

The BCL management did no escape unscathed.

Gaolathe accused them of opaque practices.

He said he has spent inordinate amounts of time looking for management financials but to no avail.

  “Preliminary results indicate that there is no need for BCL to retrench. What is needed is enhanced productivity and also to save cash by reducing costs,” he said.

He said the departure of key engineering personnel was a result of poor human resource management by BCL executives.

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