While implementation of Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy (CEEP) in the mining industry is sweet music in the ears of citizen-owned companies, it presents a headache to trade unions about loss of jobs.
It has since emerged that hundreds of employees in the mining sector will lose jobs because some major equipment contractors in the mining sector will have their contracts terminated.
Companies contracted by Debswana have since informed the Botswana Mining Workers Union (BMWU) that the contract that the companies have with the mining giant will be terminated soon. Addressing a press conference in Gaborone recently, the president of Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU), Joseph Tsimako, disclosed that Kumatsu, Barloworld and Kanu contractors have notified the union that Debswana is on course to terminate their contracts.
Although he could not state the exact figure of anticipated job losses, Tsimako said it was a considerable number because the contractors currently have many employees for Debswana’s projects at Orapa and Jwaneng mines. “Debswana wants to give contracts to citizen-owned companies as part of their Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy (CEEP) and as a result we anticipate job losses,” he explained, adding that the three contractors have informed the union that their contracts will be terminated in June this year.
“They have since notified us that they will be doing restructuring which will result in job losses. The terminations are coming and there is nothing in place to cushion those who are expected to lose jobs,” Tsimako said. He noted that while CEEP is a welcome development, it is not being implemented in the best interests of employees or properly. He cited the Cut 9 multi-billion contract between Debswana Diamond Company and Majwe Mining as an example of CEEP that was not implemented properly.
“It represents the ugly side of CEEP,” he said. “It is going to end with retrenchments. This going to be like what happened with the Majwe Mining contract when the government and Debswana terminated the contract and we have always said that the contract was terminated abruptly.”
Appealing to Debswana and the government to exercise caution when implementing CEEP, Tsimako said, there was supposed to be smooth transition in the case of Majwe Mining in order to minimise job losses. The reasoning of Debswana, he added, was that it would hire a citizen-owned company to continue with the Cut 9 project but the implementation part was not done properly.
“We objected to the way the tender was done,” said Tsimako. “We fought hard for those who lost their jobs as a result of the termination of the Majwe contract to be absorbed by Debswana and elsewhere.” Speaking at the same press briefing, the Executive Secretary of BMWU, Kitso Phiri, said they would lobby the ministry responsible for minerals about establishing a committee to play an oversight role and ensure that mining companies are mindful of issues of mental health.
“We anticipate mass job losses in the coming years and the mining industry should prioritise mental health,” Phiri said. He added that when BCL was liquidated in 2016, a number of its former employees suffered mental-related illnesses while others were imprisoned for failure to honour their financial obligations.