Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 13 September 2017 - Botswana Guardian
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 20:26

Motsamai’s P3.7m golden handshake

Former President of Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) Andrew Motsamai is expected to walk away with over P3m as settlement with his employer, Botswana Guardian has gathered.

Motsamai is parting ways with his employer where he served as Executive Chairman of Babereki Investment- a commercial arm of the union with an annual turnover of P15 million. 

He is said to have fallen out with his employer after it emerged that the union’s investment arm was no longer making money especially the subsidiaries. The union is said to be in financial mess linked to Motsamai’s leadership at Babereki Investment. 

Babereki Investments was established to spearhead the growth of local and regional business interests of BOPEU. The micro finance business was established to assist members with access to loans in a controlled manner (matching loans with repayment ability), so as to avoid over indebtedness of members whilst generating sufficient cash flows in order to build a sustainable fund.

According to insiders, Motsamai will be paid P3.7 million as terminal benefits of his contract. Motsamai’s exit is said to have been hatched prior to the meeting of the National Executive Committee that was chaired by the union’s current President Masego Mogwera. 

The union leadership is said to have blundered as the decision was supposed to have been taken by the Board of Babereki Investment. The board is however scheduled to meet next week Tuesday to discuss among other things Motsamai’s exit. 

According to a source, the meeting might not materialise as some of the board members who are compromised in the matter are considering snubbing it. In the midst of Babereki crisis, one of the directors close to Motsamai is alleged to have also benefited.

It is said that he was bought a motor vehicle (a Ranger Rover) through the investment arm which is being paid P36 000.00 per month for five years. Executive Director Finance, Victor Leoketsa is said to be among the top beneficiaries as Babereki is paying the motor vehicle at Avis, an arrangement that he allegedly negotiated with Motsamai. Leoketsa has however dismissed the claims indicating that he is paying the motor vehicle for himself. 

“It is not true. I am paying for myself. The money is amounting to P28 000 for five years,” said Leoketsa.  Board members for Babereki Ka Lorato Services are football tycoon, Enerst Molome, Lazarus Molefhi, BOPEU Deputy President Martin Gabobake and Chief Executive Officer for Babereki Investment representing the union and Babereki.

In another development, the computer containing crucial information is said to have gone missing. The computer was stolen two weeks ago before the Motsamai saga broke. The Information Technology employee is said to have been suspended on Wednesday with allegations that he knows the whereabouts of the missing computer. 

This comes after the National Executive Committee on Monday assessed the security cameras and saw a man wearing balaclavas taking the computer and put it into his bag.

Ironically Motsamai has not been served with termination at the moment. He is currently on leave but indications are that he will be served when he returns next week after board meeting that is expected to convene on Tuesday. 

This week Motsamai confirmed that he is an employee at Babereki but he could not discuss anything further regarding his employer. 

“Motsamai is ready to go and it is up to the board and the NEC that he leaves the organisation as a happy man. He has long seen his removal because there was clash of ideas between him and the NEC about the decision he was taking at Babereki. For the past two months the man has been redundant because his decision was always blocked,” said the source.

“Yes it is true we are parting with Motsamai probably in two weeks’ time because we want to settle issues first and avoid any legal dispute from arising. 

“We have realised that as NEC we made a big blunder to want to fire Motsamai without the board involvement. This is why we decided that it should convene next week so that proper structures could be followed,” said one NEC member.

Babereki Investments turnover is over 15 million pula every year. 

The union website  states about its investments; Babereki Investments was established to spearhead the growth of local and regional business interests of BOPEU. The micro finance business was established to assist members by providing access to loans in a controlled manner (matching loans with repayment ability), so as to avoid over indebtedness of members whilst generating sufficient cash flows in order to build a sustainable fund. 

The company has grown rapidly and as at 30th September 2014 it had a loan book of P25, 299,788 and generated positive cash flows. It has successfully created a strong brand amongst its 27, 352 strong membership. 

In 2010 when his mandate was left with one year, former President Botswana Landboard and Local Authorities Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), Pelotshweu Baeng hired himself as the Executive Chairman of the union with a hefty salary but he left the union sometimes in 2014 under controversial circumstances. 

Motsamai has been Executive Chairman at Babereki Investments for five months. He left his position as the union President for the lucrative position this year and signed a five-year contract. He was earning a salary of close to P70 000 every month.This week, BOPEU President, Masego Mogwera did not answer her phone to confirm the deal agreement with Motsamai. She could not even respond to a text message sent to her.

Published in News
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 20:18

Standard Chartered here for good - Group CEO

Considers Africa market lucrative

Opened first digital bank in Africa

Bill Winters, the group Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank, has allayed customers’ fears, saying unlike his competitors, the bank will not close shop in Botswana or the African continent.

Winters was in Botswana this week  to join his local board members, banking staff, clients and the public in celebrating  the bank’s 120  years of operation in the country. The glamorous celebrations were held at Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC).

Speaking to BG News on the sidelines of the celebrations and responding to this publication’s question on whether his bank will follow Barclays’ lead and pull out of Africa, Winters said: “The idea of Standard Chartered Bank leaving Africa does not cross my mind”.

He said they made it clear two years ago that they are committed to Africa. “We have a great business in Africa, we have long history having started 150 years ago,” he said.

As for accusations that the bank always lags behind in initiatives that could benefit Botswana, Winters promised that they certainly will come up with initiatives to boost local businesses both in Botswana and the African continent. 

He said they always place Africa as a top priority when they discuss global investments whether in digital banking, applications or particular products.  “There is no individual market in Africa that is as big for ourselves as the market  in Hongkong, Singapore or India, but Africa is as important as any region that we have. It is growing really fast and we have real advantage, we are now rolling our projects in Africa.”

He said they are building their first purely digital bank in Cote de I’voire. It is currently being tested and will later be rolled out to the rest of Africa. “So I do not know about other banks, but for us Africa comes first”. 

Asked when his bank will appoint a substantive Chief Executive Officer       in Botswana, Winters said, “That is a complicated process, I wish I could say, but I am sure we will have resolution before too long”. 

The bank is currently led by Mpho Masupe as acting CEO following the departure of Moathudi Lekaukau who resigned his position early this year. Without doubt the bank is making huge profits, Board chairman Professor Bojosi Othugile wrote in the group’s 2016 annual report that ‘outlook for 2017 is positive, the balance sheet is strong and the business segments have a good pipeline for conversion in 2017’.  

Published in News
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 20:06

BMD-Gaolathe prepares members for ‘bombshell’

The Gaolathe-led faction of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) is preparing its members for a ‘bomshell’ announcement expected in a week’s time

However, Phenyo Butale, the faction’s secretary general avers that theirs is “... normal visit to meet our structures in Francistown”. 

The faction visited Francistown before the Bobonong congress to brief members on the state of the party within the context of the internal wars at the time. Immediately after the congress where a split had occured another national tour was made by the party leadership resulting in another meeting in Francistown. 

Amidst rumours that, by mid-September the faction will have announced that it is indeed morphing into a fully-fledged party, the leaders of the faction will address its members this Saturday in Francistown. A member of the faction, who explained that the majority of the members of the faction at the consultative meetings that were held countrywide a month ago felt that the way forward was the formation of a new party, revealed that, the purpose of the weekend meeting is to report back to the Francistown region the difficulties the faction is experiencing within the UDC. 

“Over and above that, the leadership will be coming to share with us feedback from the other regions,” said a BMD member speaking anonymously. Asked to confirm or deny allegations that his faction had registered a party and that it was only a matter of time before an announcement is made to that effect, Butale, for the umpteenth time denied the allegations. 

“No. That is not true. The UDC only met the other faction yesterday over the problems of the BMD and we are eagerly awaiting their recommendations,” said Butale who however noted that, the decision to form a party or not lies not with the party leadership but with the people. With the trust levels in the UDC dropping by the day, it appears the leadership of the faction has inflexibly resolved that the formation of a new party is the way to go. The media has been awash with reports that, divisions in the UDC are widening by the day. 

“We have had enough acrimony. Firstly it was us against the Pilane-led faction before the split. We are now involved in a fight with the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) in the Umbrella with the UDC president, Duma Boko aiding the BCP. We do not trust Boko. The only solution is to move on by way of forming a new party because we do have the numbers,” said the source who does not think an alliance between the Boko-led UDC and Gaolathe’s party is even feasible. 

“That is out of the question as far as we are concerned. It is also going to be difficult for us to enter into a formal relationship with the UDC such as the formation of a government of national unity because we will once again disagree on the positions we are currently fighting over right now,” said the source referring to the fact that, the BCP and BMD are fighting over who should be the 1st Vice President and who should be the 2nd Vice President.

According to pundits, should the animosity between Gaolathe’s party and the UDC be allowed to persist, there would then be the likelihood that, the new party will form an alliance with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) on account of the fact that, a sizeable number of Gaolathe’s party members will be from the BDP. 

Should this happen, the UDC, which many believed would unseat the BDP at the 2019 general election following its good performance at the last general election, will have once again missed the boat for the foreseeable future. Media reports say that, the Botswana Peoples Movement (BPM), the alleged name of the new party, is likely to attract members from the existing parties. 

“It is true that our leadership is under pressure from Barata Phathi faction in the BDP not only to form a new party but to pull out of the Umbrella as soon as possible. Many BDP Members of Parliament (MPs), councillors and ordinary members are coming on board. They prefer the new party to the UDC so that they may contest as many wards and constituencies without constraints such as incumbency. 

The UDC, especially the Botswana National Front (BNF) is also going to lose members and so will the BCP,” said the source who revealed that, the Gaolathe group wants the Botswana Peoples’ Party (BPP) to dissolve and become part of the Movement. 

“The idea is to make a public announcement a week after this weekend meeting that a party has been formed. The intention is to hold our Convention at the end of October,” said the impeccable source.

Published in News
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 20:02

Women demand positions in Mining sector

Under the theme ‘Women in Mining Botswana: Addressing in the conceptual challenges and seizing transformation opportunities,’ Belle Larissa company will host a conference for women in mining next Thursday in Gaborone.

The company, owned by former Miss Botswana Malebogo Marumoagae is an etiquette and image consultant firm. Marumoagae said in an interview with BG News that the objective is to inspire and promote women in the mining industry. It is targeted at women in mining and will offer participants an opportunity to discuss issues affecting female miners, among others. 

“There aren’t many women in the mining sector and those in senior positions are few,” she said. Less than 19 percent of women in Botswana are in the sector. The event is supported by Women In Business Association, Botswana Chamber of Mines and UN Women Botswana. 

International speakers include South Africa’s Siza Majola who features in 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining 2016 list, Khosi Sibisi, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Streams Holdings (Pty) Ltd. The entity specialises in mining, mining exploration, mineral rights applications, mine waste management, employment equity and social and labour planning, and also Gargi Mishra, who is actively involved in the promotion of open innovation and the Internet of things (IoT) in the mining sector through her Mining Innovation Portal.

Local speakers include Health and Wellness minister Dorcas Makgato, MP Bogolo Kenewendo, Ndibo Matshameko who is a geologist at Debswana Jwaneng mine, among others. 

Mining is an industry which has always been male-dominated, regardless of geographical location. There have been positive steps which have helped to integrate women into the industry, but females continue to be under-represented and mining is still largely a man’s domain, globally. 

A study Mining for Talent published early in 2013 and conducted by Women in Mining (UK) and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, stated that mining industry has the lowest number of women on company boards of any industry group worldwide. South Africa is one country which is leading the rest in terms of employing women in the mining and minerals sectors.

Up until the 1990s, legislation barred women from working underground in South Africa. This all changed, and in 2002 the South African Mining Charter introduced quotas urging mining companies to employ a 10 percent female staff quota (where it was just 2 percent in the year 2000). 

South Africa in particular is an interesting case: the country, through its policies, has been working to rectify the injustices of its past by helping those who have historically been disadvantaged. Certainly, over the last few years there has been a rise in the number of women qualifying in technical roles as well as more traditional ‘female’ roles such as office staff. 

The problem with this according to the study, however, is that many companies appear to have approached that quota as a goal – when in reality, it could be a fantastic opportunity for companies to far exceed the quota, initiating a truly diverse workforce more representative of the country’s people.

It states that challenges by women in mining include lack of mentorship, lack of guidance, lack of workplace support and of hygiene facilities. Women as a whole also feel that there was insufficient career and development guidance. Health and safety were also issues that women felt were not being addressed properly. Women also say that men are given more opportunities based on gender, rather than accomplishment.

Other challenges include verbal harassment and physical abuse in the form of rape. “The safety of female mineworkers is a growing concern and requires a shift in policy and legislation to protect them,” it says.

Published in News
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 19:57

Lesotho: the madness continues

The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) soldiers who shot and killed Lt. Gen. Khoantle Motsomotso on Monday before they also were killed by the Commander’s bodyguards, were accorded the necessary respect in accordance with military protocol.

They were saluted from the ground floor all the way to the top of a two-storey military headquarters building.

Little did their colleagues realise that in between the smiling faces and acknowledgement, were murderers in waiting determined to execute a well thought out plan to assassinate the Commander. 

Now with another dark cloud having befallen the Basotho nation, Lesotho government under the leadership of Prime Minister Tom Thabane is committed to adhering and implementing decisions aimed at finally bringing peace and stability to the Mountainous African Kingdom, which has earned the badge of the region’s headache.

Speaking to BG News in a telephone interview, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Lesego Makgothi said nothing will stop them from implementing the SADC recommendations not even an act of hooliganism that has led to the murdering of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander, who was shot dead by the Mutineers two days ago. 

The two mutineers who have since been killed have been named as Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Lt. Colonel Tefo Hashatsi who had been under criminal investigation.

Currently the situation is calm in Lesotho, but security has been beefed up at the prime minister’s residence and office, respective Ministerial offices and residences and the radio station. Military personnel has also been deployed on the streets to ensure the safety of all, he said.

At its 37th head of states and government summit in Pretoria last month, SADC gave Thabane’s administration until November 2017 to formulate a roadmap aimed at implementing SADC decisions, provided that he is not assassinated. Part of the SADC recommendations and decisions instructed Thabane to fire Lesotho’s Defence Force Commander, Lieutenant General Tladi Kamoli. 

The latter is believed to have been involved in the death of former LDF Commander Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao who was shot by fellow members of the LDF. Amongst the first step that the government took as part of implementing SADC recommendations was writing dismissal letters for five soldiers who were still working despite being above the mandatory retirement age limit of 55 years old.

Speaking to BG News and revealing what happened, Makgothi said LDF Commander Lt. Gen. Khoantle Motsomotso was gunned down in his office at the Lesotho Defence Force’s headquarters in Maseru.

“The murder took place on Monday just a day after I held a meeting with him to pave way for a meeting with the open arrest soldiers commonly referred to as mutineers. We met after reading the letter that was delivered to us by the Civic Society who wanted to have a meeting with Motsomotso. 

“I had asked the military hierarchy to formulate a position, because the mutineers are against the SADC recommendations. Key amongst their dispute is that the court marshal should not be dissolved. Further that it should not appear that they have been given amnesty as they went to the court marshal to clear their names,” said the minister. 

He added that, “As government, we told them that their demand cannot succeed as that forms part of the SADC resolution. Those guys also wanted to use the LDF Act selectively looking at only sections that favour them. They said they are not happy with Section 100 of the Act, while they were fine with section 2 which states that the prime minister can dissolve the court marshal.

“Their recommendation was that the court marshal should be repealed in the LDF Act. Their argument is that it should be used at administration level and not to appoint the president as the move legalises whole court.”

He said that based on the above, he asked the commander to go back and look at the demands and formulate his opinion. “We had agreed that we should have a follow up meeting on 7th September. On the same day I proceeded in the company of other ministers to have a meeting with the mutineers.”

He revealed that this week Monday a letter was delivered to the bodyguards of former LDF commander general Kamoli. These are the guys that shot a couple which parked their car near Kamodi’s residence. The letter was requesting them to appear before the police as the police have opened a case for the dead girl and injured male companion. “It appeared more like Hashatsi and Sechele were involved in the brutal killing of General Mahao,” the minister noted.

Makgothi said that on Monday at around 9am both Sechele and Hashatsi went into the LDF headquarters and went to the commander’s office which is a two-storey block building. “As they passed through their colleagues they were given complimentary salute as they are senior members of the army. Upon reaching the commander’s office the two found him having a meeting with the Public Relations Officer of LDF. The two exchanged words with the commander and the officers. 

Realising that they were not going anywhere, the commander requested them to wait outside his office in order to give him chance to complete his ongoing meeting. But instead of going out, Sechele took out the firearm and shot the commander to death”.

Makgothi said at this stage Hashatsi bolted outside the office caused and a bit of confusion. As he was running out Sechele also came out with his gun in the air but was shot and killed. 

At that stage Hashatsi had managed to run for a distance of 15 metres but was shot and badly injured. 

He later died in the hospital. Makgothi pointed out that at the time when the police were inspecting them they found hand grenades hidden and covered under the soil something that clearly shows that this was a planned assassination. 

Deputy Commander Major General Lineo Poopa has since taken over the command of LDF and is working hand in hand with the Air Wing Commander, Major General Letsoela. Makgothi told BG News that he immediately informed the SADC Executive Sectary Dr Stergomena Tax as well as all his regional counterparts, while Prime Minister Thabane spoke to President Jacob Zuma in his capacity as SADC chairman. 

SADC has since decided to deploy the Double Troika, Ministerial Double Troika and Defence Security Chief composed of both the Police and the army in a fact finding mission to Lesotho. 

The respective teams were scheduled to arrive in Lesotho by Wednesday and hold meetings with all stakeholders on the 8 to 9th.September 2017.

Published in News
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 19:49

Kentse Rammidi: BCP is a bona-fide member of UDC

In this interview with Botswana Guardian’s Correspondent Edward Bule, opposition Botswana Congress Party’s Secretary General Kentse Rammidi puts a few misconceptions about his party’s relation with the BMD into proper perspective. 

BG: There are claims that the president of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko, favours the president of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Dumelang Saleshando at the expense of the president of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Ndaba Gaolathe in the UDC. What do you know?

KR: In our view there is absolutely no reason why President of the Umbrella for Democracy Hon. Duma Boko should be viewed, perceived or otherwise to favour Mr. Dumelang Saleshando at the expense of Hon. Ndaba Gaolathe because as far as we are concerned there are no issues between the two. So, whoever holds that view is clutching at straws and probably trying to sponsor a division between Mr. Saleshando and Hon Gaolathe.

 

Q: Specifically, there are complaints that, Boko has been inviting the leadership of the BCP to UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings although the party, according to those complaining, has got no right to sit in those meetings because it has not yet signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). What is your take?

 

A: There have been no official complaints from any of the UDC contracting partners that President Boko should not invite BCP to UDC National Executive Committee meetings. In accordance with the agreement that was reached between UDC and BCP, a new NEC was to take effect comprising four members from each of the contracting parties. It is for this reason that BCP is a legitimate member and attends UDC NEC meetings. At the announcement of the deal at Oasis Motel in February 2017, there was no mention or promise of any Memorandum of Agreement to be signed. It was announced that an agreement has been sealed and BCP was now a member of UDC. Period.

 

Q: When is the BCP signing the MOA and what has been the cause of the delay?

 

A: As far as we are concerned as the BCP there is no memorandum of agreement to sign. This is just a figment of people’s imagination. The agreement was reached on the basis of three aspects, allocation of constituencies, a policy document and a draft constitution that is to be ratified by a constitutional congress. The holding of the congress could be delayed by the resolution of the BMD problems. These documents are the binding contractual documents not a memorandum of agreement.

 

Q: It appears the BCP and BMD will never see eye to eye. In the run-up to the 2014 general election, the two parties fought over constituencies. This time around, there is an ongoing fight between the two parties over who should, between Gaolathe and Saleshando, be the senior vice president? Are the two parties power-hungry and more concerned with positions than the issues that affect the nation?

 

A:There was and there is no acrimony between the BCP and BMD. In the run up to 2014 election we disagreed over the allocation of Ramotswa constituency and the matter could not be amicably resolved. We agreed to disagree and the BCP membership directed the leadership to suspend the talks until after election. The issue of senior vice president does not exist since it is not part of the UDC/BCP agreement. Therefore there is no power struggle between the BCP and BMD.

 

Q: One of the reasons why the Umbrella 1 talks collapsed is that the BCP viewed the BMD with understandable suspicion because the party had never contested an election and therefore its electoral strength was difficult to estimate. The BCP also had problems with the ideological orientation of the BMD it being a splinter of the BDP. Is the party a credible opposition worthy of your time and attention? 

 

A: The BCP never viewed the BMD with any suspicion nor questioned their electoral strength. We are alive to the fact that all numbers count in politics and we are grateful that the BMD is successful in chipping into the BDP votes. The issue of ideological orientation is irrelevant because we have agreed on a policy document that is all-encompassing. For the above reasons BMD remains a valuable partner in the opposition coalition and we hope their problems are resolved.

 

Q: Some feel that Gaolathe, whose party has got the majority Members of Parliament (MPs) in the UDC but has allowed Boko to be both president of the UDC and Leader of the Opposition(LOO), has sacrificed a lot. In their view, he should be given the position of 1ST vice president of the UDC? Is the BCP amenable to that view?  

 

A: As the BCP we were not part of any arrangement of who becomes Leader of Opposition hence we are constrained to comment. Like I have alluded to in one of the questions the issue of first vice president does not exist and remains personal sentiments of some individuals.

 

Q: Are you worried that the ongoing season of acrimony within the UDC could compromise opposition chances of winning the 2019 general election? What, as the BCP, do you intend to do to facilitate unity in the Umbrella?

 

A: There is no acrimony within the UDC but rather differences within the BMD camp. In our view as the BCP the differences are not insurmountable and together with the UDC leadership we are working on a solution. It is true that this is delaying preparations for 2019 but it is a hurdle that we must cross first. We remain hopeful that we shall overcome.

 

Q: There is a rumour that a new party is about to be announced. Are you worried that the problem of vote splitting among the opposition is upon us again? 

 A: The rumour of the formation of a new party is worrisome and we say God forbid. Truth be told, a new party will be counterproductive both to the opposition and the aspiration of the majority of Batswana who cast their vote for opposition in 2014. It will be unfortunate and ill advised. Look, I believe this is the time for real leaders to raise their hands and be counted. As we traverse the opposition route we should learn from our past and gain wisdom. 

Published in News
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 19:43

Former BCL miners meet Kebonang

Want housing lease agreement reviewed

Want alternative employment

Minister takes ex-miners’ demands to Cabinet

The Union representing former BCL employees, Botswana Mine Workers Union, recently met with minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Sadique Kebonang to discuss their grievances.

The meeting was held in Gaborone on August 28. The former employees want government to offer them alternative employment. All employees of the BCL who were terminated at the date of liquidation of the mine were entitled to remain in BCL housing rent-free, in accordance with the12 months lease agreement signed.

However, provisional liquidator Nigel Dixon-Warren wrote to them what will happen on November 1. All former employees have the first option to remain in the housing after October 31 but will be required to sign a new lease with effect from November 1.  

Also former employees may remain in the houses for three months from November 1 but will be required to pay a nominal rental, which will be dependent on what type of house they occupy and whether it is a hostel room in a low-density area. 

“Should you wish to leave earlier than January 31 next year, you can do so by giving necessary notice,” says the liquidator. The charges for high density houses are between P300 and P400, while low density ones are between P1 500 and P3000.

 

Commercial rental

According to Dixon-Warren, former employees wishing to continue to rent the houses after February 1 next year will be required to pay a commercial rental, which will be payable in advance and on a monthly basis. As for those staying in hostel rooms, they will be charged P100 per month. 

The condition is that if they want to stay until January 31, 2018 their lease will be for three months and if they want to stay beyond, their lease will be for two years. Those in hostels wanting to stay after the end of October are expected to occupy the houses personally. 

Former employees want Kebonang to review the Housing Lease agreement signed with the provisional liquidator to offer a minimum of six months to allow for the engagement to conclude. 

During the meeting with Kebonang, unionists asked him to offer them alternative employment as they were under pressure to pay their debts and to sustain their families. “Some banks have taken us to sheriffs and they are after us day and night. They don’t listen when we tell them we haven’t found employment,” said one of them. 

Unionists are pleading with government to increase repayment for settlement of bank loans during which period interest on loans is frozen. It was also said that the issue of payment of retrenchment packages must be resolved amicably between the parties. 

Further, former employees asked for government to continue paying maintenance wages and costs of medical care to those injured on duty until the process has been completed. As for the Care and Maintenance crew, the request is for government to review employment terms and conditions to afford them special conditions in line with nature of their engagement. 

“They are not paid overtime, contrary to what they had been promised that they will flow with their normal BCL contract,” said a union member. Currently there are around 400 staff members under Care and Maintenance at the closed BCL mine and 30 at Tati Nickel mine. 

In response, minster Kebonang promised to submit the demands to Cabinet for consideration. 

He further undertook to return to the Union with feedback on Cabinet decision at a meeting set for September 20. 

 

Current situation

Botswana Guardian visited Selebi-Phikwe last week. In an interview, a woman in her late 50s said that her husband has found a job at Orapa mine three months back. 

She had to remain in Selebi-Phikwe with their three children, two of which are still schooling. She says that he visits every end of the month. 

A man in his mid 30s said they now pay for their own water bills. Meanwhile some former employees said they have also formed prayer groups to encourage one another. 

“We still have faith that BCL mine will reopen and that they will employ us again,” said one of the women. 

Published in News

I am petrified at the developments I hear. Back then in the civil service my boss told me that; a dozen wise men can be more easily wiped out than a hundred fools. I will leave it to the reader to digest. Unfortunately, many of those who judge BOPEU are outsiders, who do not know the subject, who do not realise that today the idea of an organisation of professional revolutionaries has already scored a complete victory. That victory would have been impossible if this idea had not been pushed to the forefront at the time, if we had not “exaggerated” so as to drive it home to people who were trying to prevent it from being realised. It was never about his hat, his stylish jacket and his glass of wine.

Though unconfirmed, reports suggest that Comrade Andrew Motsamai is leaving BOPEU and Babereki Investments; he leaves us with a list of ingredients, but not the finished cake. This is the legacy of Comrade Andrew Motsamai. The next phase will be how to sustain the organisation moving forward. We have to task to ask ourselves questions, and to ask our leadership questions.  We have overtime asked where BOPEU is getting money to build these luxurious offices around the country and the answer has always been presented that we are doing so through loans from banks and servicing such loans through our investments at Babereki Investments. I am worried at this development; this essentially means that to sustain BOPEU in its current format equally in measure means that above all we need to first sustain Babereki Investments. Having been one of those who have supported Comrade Motsamai throughout his tenure at BOCRA, BOPEU and Babereki Investments, I am likely to be considered biased. But mine is just an opinion. If I don’t air this opinion, a lot of heap might go unchallenged and end up being considered truth whilst in fact it is cooked manure.

When there was an unwilling or some sort of inability to change the view of economic trade unionisms because of tradition or convention, Comrade Motsamai took a personal sacrifice for the collective to embark on working to change the hidebound corporate cultures that trade unionism cannot heavily be present in the local Botswana business landscape. This as we warned back then was to come with its own difficulties of handling problems of new interested parties; the business world and its shrewd players as is the nature of Botswana. Comrades will recall that Comrade Andrew Motsamai only became a fulltime employee of Babereki Investments this year in February. He had all along, for more than a decade been leading BOPEU as its president and being the Chairman of Babereki Investment from his tiny classroom at the Institute of Health Sciences in Gaborone where he was a lecture. All what we have at BOPEU and Babereki was accumulated by a man running from a lecture room.

I can’t go on much about history. We are already in this phase of economic emancipation. And if this legacy of Comrade Motsamai is not sustained after his departure, the ossification will not just end there. It will be the relegation of BOPEU to a dumping side. Unless we find a new culture of doing things which we are not accustomed to since our transformation from BOCRA to BOPEU under Comrade Motsamai’s leadership. Supposing we will fit into a new culture. But before we proceed with how we move forward post Comrade Motsamai, we ought to first have to be honest about our past and the immense contribution of Comrade Motsamai to what is now known as BOPEU and what is now our commercial wing. In vilifying him, we must remember that throughout the history of his leadership at both organisations, he survived the odds. It was during a time which a resolute struggle was conducted against every kind of medieval rubbish in the trade union industry. That workers should be dependent on foreign banks for economic cushioning. He went against serfdom in institutions and ideas that had kept us economic slaves. And in all these dissenting voices were growing against him. The dissenting voice grow when something is being done, good or bad. And in this case good was being done. Had nothing been done, there would have been no dissenting voices. I argue that dissenting voices are a sign of growth in leadership of an individual and that of the institution and thus healthy.

Comrade Motsamai built Babereki to be the only economic super power in Botswana wholly in the hands of indigenous Batswana. This is the only big business that is not owned by foreigners or naturalised people. I am one of those members of BOPEU who prides himself with this simple arithmetic. My gut tells me that the enemies of democratic and economic growth of both Babereki Investments and BOPEU have, therefore, always exerted all their efforts to undermine his leadership. In the process, they had totally forgot that the organisations ought to be sustained for the betterment of the lives of the working class, and economic emancipation. Comrade Motsamai’s leadership has throughout his tenure defended the concept of cushioning members of BOPEU from the hardships of the banking interest rates in a determined manner and repeatedly explained how profoundly erroneous is every deviation from this basis. I am one of those proponents of keeping trade unionism and partisan politics separated. Some scholars have identified that political parties, ruling or opposing, are a superstructure on the economic foundation. We see, for example, that the various political manifestos serve to strengthen the domination of the bourgeoisie over the proletariat. We can’t then as a trade unionism movement be expected to be oblivious to the facts to a point of letting ourselves be at the mercy of the capitalistic system. Where the bourgeois political rulers saw a relation between things, the exchange of one commodity for another, Comrade Motsamai’s leadership revealed a relation between people. It was the only thing we had; our strength in numbers and it was this numbers that our leadership to bargain and invest for BOPEU members.

People always have been the foolish victims of deception and self-deception in politics. And they always will be until they have learnt to seek out the interests of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises. Champions of reforms and improvements will always be fooled by the defenders of the old order until they realise that every old institution, however barbarous and rotten it may appear to be, is kept going by the forces of certain ruling classes. In the case of BOPEU and Babereki Investments, the issue was always going to be competing interests of people wanting to do business with the two organisations and finding allies within to push out their “obstacles”. The old order does not like all these. They want all that we have worked for including our savings and our investments. The old order has a way of dipping its hand in everything the working class invests in and they do these by capturing our own comrades to get rid of “obstacles” and we have warned Comrade Motsamai that he was this “obstacle”.

It shall not end with Comrade Motsamai; it is a business culture and shall be our culture moving forward until they rid us of our investment arm. It was only beginning with Comrade Motsamai as it had to begin with someone. And it will end only when Babereki Investments has been taken over by those bourgeoisie classes fighting to take it over.   And there is only one way of smashing the resistance of the capitalist bourgeoisies, and that is to find, in the very comrades which surrounds us, the forces which can and, owing to their social position, must constitute the power capable of sweeping away the old behaviours and sustaining the created new behaviour, and to enlighten and organise those working class forces for the struggle that lay ahead. Comrades can take a back seat and celebrate Comrade Motsamai’s downfall, but very sooner than later all comrades will be faced with the hard truth. We will realise that he was made the fall guy and that the problem remains within. The next question we ought to pose to ourselves as members of BOPEU is; given this situation, supposing we are in agreement with the sob stories we are being sold by the leadership of BOPEU, what is to be done? The basic mistake made by those who now criticise what has been done to ensure the economic standpoint of BOPEU is to divorce it from the leadership of Comrade Motsamai. In treating the economic cushioning and gains of BOPEU members apart from our connection with the concrete historical situation of a definite, and now endangered Babereki Investment has been a mistake. This mistake has been to identify that every human being given an opportunity to lead, and now in the case of Comrade Motsamai, is bound to err. Comrade Motsamai has led BOPEU for more than a decade. Surely you can’t lead for more than a decade and not step on some people’s toes and in his case he has stepped toes within our own union and forces outside the union.

This mistake was strikingly demonstrated, for instance, by those who exaggerated his supreme being in making investment decisions. Babereki Investment as we know it is a conglomerate of companies that have their own boards of directors and all resolutions from these many companies are made by such boards of directors. Babereki Investment board for an example will not make a resolution for Babereki Kalerato, a funeral service scheme which is a totally different board from Babereki Investments. I am not privy to much detail. But my basic understanding, reading from media reports about cars being bought from avis by Babereki Kalerato Funerals is that such will have been a resolution of Babereki Kalerato Funerals. This company has an independent board of directors chaired by our Vice President, Martin Gabobake and not Comrade Motsamai. Thus shifting the gears and blaming Comrade Motsamai when it suits us is what they call selective justice. 

From where I am standing today, these allegations are ridiculous. As if their fabricators want to dismiss a whole period in the development of our investment wing. To dismiss gains which, in their time, had to be fought for. But which have long ago been consolidated and have served their purpose. Now with various delegated authorities who have now failed their roles have found a scapegoat in Comrade Motsamai. It is definite that such people will continue to view us who are sceptical of these allegations and their intentions as their enemies or enemies of the organisation. But I wish to remind them that their tenure in office shall end and our tenures as members are as long lasting as our jobs with the public service and we shall continue to scrutinise. The history of trade unionism is rich with examples we may refer to.

Another question arises as to who accomplished, who brought into being this superior trade union that is the envy of so many who wish to lead it and enjoy the colourful rainfall, solidarity, and stability? It was accomplished by the progressive resilience of professional revolutionaries, of which Comrade Motsamai made the greatest contribution. Anyone who knows our union’s history well, anyone who has had a hand in building the Union of Choice, has but to glance at the delegate list of any of the groups at, say, the Palapye congress of 2015. In order to be convinced of this and notice at once that it is a list of the old membership, the central core that had worked hardest of all to build up the union and make it what it is. Then one has to observe the loudest voices in shouting at people who have built this union; it is the new breed that arrived when the honeybees have been removed from the honey. This is the same breed whose only interest is enjoying a lavish lifestyle of international trips, trotting the world with our subscriptions and bringing no results for these spending.

The only thing that has been coming out of BOPEU for Babereki Investments since Comrade Motsamai left the Presidency has been that there is no money for bursary funds, personal loans etc.  We should not try to behave as if in all these ‘there is no money’ rhetoric we witnessed more international trips being undertaken than ever before. We are aware that it has been a lavish lifestyle of per-diem, five star hotels, and business class flights and yet we the members were repeatedly told there is no money. It was a given that in a very short period of time they will start fighting about these lavish lifestyle matters and shift blame. They have taken the blame to Comrade Motsamai who left BOPEU for Babereki Investment in February. We are now told BOPEU is now as broke as hell and hence the fight for control of Babereki Investments, where our savings are being managed. Stage-managing meetings to shift blame will not erase facts. Besides, Comrade Motsamai just recently came in as an employee of Babereki when all these products, funerals, loans, insurance have been launched. Where are the officers who have been doing all these? Where is the CEO? Basically, of course, the economic success of BOPEU was due to the fact that the old working class, whose best representatives built Babereki Investments, for objective economic reasons possessed a greater capacity for organising workers than any other trade union in Botswana. Without this condition, an organisation of professional revolutionaries would be nothing more than a plaything, an adventure, a mere signboard.  We should not allow the significance of the gains already won be shaken by belated complaints that the ambitions of the Union of Choice were exaggerated by those who at that time had to fight to ensure the correct way of accomplishing these tasks.

Yes, like any other leader, Comrade Motsamai had his own circle that provided guidance. Some came with good faith and some came only to profit from the union. It is the weakness of humanity. But it is not enough to condemn the old circle spirit. Its significance in the special circumstances of the past period must be understood. The circles were necessary in their day and played a positive role. In the situation created by the whole history of the hostility between trade unionism in Botswana, both BOPEU and Babereki Investments could not have developed except from these circles. Some of these circles, which we have interacted with in our various events and activities contributed in many ways to where we are simply because they were Comrade Motsamai’s friends. I repeat that Comrade Motsamai also somehow invited all these on himself through some of these same small knit circles. These exclusive groups uniting a very small number of people were in large nearly always based on personal friendship. Though they were a necessary stage in the development of where we are today as a union. With the power to own whatever we will, within the corners of this country. They also had their own problematic areas of interests. Money. As the union grew, it was by default confronted with the task of uniting these circles, forming strong links between them, and establishing continuity. This called for a firm base of operations beyond the reach of the national leadership, including that of Comrade Motsamai. These are some of the people who ate Comrade Motsamai.

A struggle between the circles was also therefore inevitable and naturally so, as would have happened elsewhere. Today, in retrospect, we can clearly see which of the circles was really in a position to act as a base of operations. But at that, Comrade Motsamai was bound to be fought within, fight for power. When the various circles were just beginning their work, no one could say that and the controversy could be resolved only through power struggle. We need to remember that those who fought for power and grabbed it will suffer the same fate when a new group with same aspirations emerge. The circles natural so began having their people with the union beyond Comrade Motsamai. I am aware that this is an easy thing to say after the events have unfolded, and to say it reveals a failure to understand the conditions then prevailing. For one thing, there was no criterion by which to judge the strength or importance of one or another circle. The importance of many of them, which are now forgotten, was exaggerated, but in their time they wanted through struggle to assert their right to existence. Secondly, the differences among the circles were over the direction the work was to take, work which at the time was new to them. In a nutshell, what ate Comrade Motsamai was that; leading such a huge organisation, with such a huge investment, he was bound to at one point or the other step into other people’s toes and he did. He was eaten from inside and outside as he had become a thorn that did not allow petty bourgeoisie to eat. He also refused new comers space and new comers felt left out and they needed the space. They now have the space. We can seat and watch, or we can act. It is entirely our choice.

 

Leader Thabo Keaipha

BOPEU Member – Moshupa

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in News
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 19:21

LESOTHO: the valley of dry bones

A man in the Bible called Ezekiel makes a startling claim, he says, “I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry”. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” in the case of Lesotho, the answer is an unequivocal NO! 

Another murder another mindless crime! Another cold-blooded kill, another cold-blooded thrill. Another Lieutenant General down, another trouble brewing. As the Monarchy goes down, anarchy goes up. As they did two years ago with former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Lt. Gen. Maaparankoe Mahao, they have repeated it with Lt. Gen. Khoantle Motsomotso; cold-blood murder. 

The unique geographic position and rugged terrain of the Kingdom of Lesotho is a telling summary of its never-ending pains. This barren and mountainous enclave has been on political analgesics ever since it tasted independence. Tiny as it is, disentangling politics and psychography of the Kingdom of Lesotho is an unforgiving experience. It is torture of first kind and often ends as a journey into oblivion.  

The Kingdom has been on perpetual life-support swinging between a coma and political epilepsy. Since independence, Lesotho has experienced countless military coup d’état. Long lasting peace and political stability has been as elusive to the Kingdom as Kapenta fish is to the fishermen of the Zambezi River. 

Geographically deprived as it is, the kingdom’s complexities and dynamics far contrast its size. Decades of instability are testimony that in Lesotho, peace is a political inconvenience. As things stand, Lesotho remains a puzzle in Pandora’s Box, tied in Gordian knot and hidden behind the garden, behind the wall under the tree. There is no doubt that the mountains of Lesotho have become killing fields and the country, a valley of dry bones.

 

Lord of the Mountains

“And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place,” so says the book of Micah. 

In the current political and security climate in Lesotho, no man befits this description better than the recently retired LDF Commander, Lt. General Tlali Kamoli. Those close to him call him, ‘Lord of the mountains’ and the Phumaphi Commission called him, ‘divisive.’ Those in the know would whisper to your ears that Kamoli is the man behind the chaos; the master puppeteer.

When Lt. Gen. Mahao was killed by fellow officers in 2015, all fingers pointed to Kamoli. He was accused of ordering the hit and Phumaphi Commission called for his immediate removal. This was after Kamoli was accused of orchestrating a failed coup that saw the military attack several police stations and led to Prime Minister Tom Thabane and others escaping to South Africa.

For over many years the military have been central actors in Basotho politics: in 1970 supporting Chief Leabua Jonathan’s decision to suspend the constitution and abort elections clearly lost to Ntsu Mokhehle and the BCP; in 1986 overthrowing the government itself; in 1990 staging an intra- military putsch; in 1993 dictating many of the terms of democratic elections such that the RLDF and its Command are now entrenched as part of the ruling executive. Kamoli has literally become law unto himself and is obstructing any constructive effort to find peaceful resolution to the political crisis. 

 

Eli, Eli, lemasabachthani!

Where will the cure for Lesotho’s chronic illness come from, when all textbook solutions have proven fruitless? The Kingdom has been the ‘sick man of SADC’ and it will remain so until SADC heeds to Albert Einstein’s advice that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 

The point, there is nothing new that SADC is doing in Lesotho, that it has not done before. They have called Summit after Summit, Troika after Troika, Election after Election and even deployed military units, but the results have always come out the same; more instability. Kamoli has defied not only court orders, but even SADC. 

Fearful of him and his potential retribution in 2016, the government offered him a golden handshake and full assurance that all his transgressions would be swept under the carpet. This happened before SADC’s very eyes and in total disregard of Ramaphosa and the Phumaphi Commission. 

What did SADC do, it was all business as usual. In simple terms, SADC has allowed Kamoli to get away with murder. 

Although the political instability in Lesotho is proving to be having multiple causes and intensifiers, the feebleness of state institutions seems to be a leading factor. 

Published in News
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 19:14

Standard Chartered honours Gobe Matenge

Gobe Matenge, 91, was this week Monday honoured by Standard Chartered Bank for being the first Motswana to open an account with the bank and maintain it for 64 years.

He opened the account on 30th July 1953 in Francistown. Matenge was honoured at a colourful event held at the GICC where the bank celebrated its 120 years of operating in Botswana. It was attended by the crème de la crème of the society, amongst them Bank of Botswana governor Moses Pelaelo and Standard Chartered Bank Group CEO, Bill Winters.

Matenge was born in February 1926 and started his career in 1946 with Monarch mines and later joined the public sector where he contributed immensely to the development of this country. 

He has held several positions including PS in the then labour and home affairs ministry.

Mantenge, was honoured togetherwith Haskins and Sons company.

Published in News
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