While the first creditors meeting convened by BCL by Provisional Liquidator, Nigel Dixon Warren has brought a ray of hope to some of the now defunct mine’s creditors, the situation is not so much with the Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU). BCL creditors met for the first time on Monday in Gaborone where Dixon-Warren updated them on, amongst others, the process to be followed after filing and proving claims. The union president Jack Tlhagale said after the meeting that though they have filed a P770 million claim in the BCL Mine liquidation process for the recovery of its member’s benefits, they have little hope that much will come out of it. “From our observation, only the so-called secured creditors will get something tangible out of the liquidation, hence we have decided to seek an alternative redress to our grievances,” said Tlhagale. According to Tlhagale, BMWU intends to sue government in order to recover its members’ benefits because as it is there is no prospect of them getting what is due to them if they (BMWU) decide to wait for the liquidation process. “Banks and government itself; as one of the creditors it would seem are going to take everything. The legal route is our alternative action. Our lawyers are currently working on the opinion,” he said. The first meeting comes after the liquidator recently released his report on BCL in which he among others reveal that Cabinet ministers who met to discuss the future of BCL mine were clueless about the goings on at the copper and nickel mine and their decisions were based on wrong information and that a year after Cabinet decided to liquidate BCL, not a single Cabinet minister has any idea about the true worth of the company and the information they presented to the High Court when applying for the liquidation was factually incorrect.
He stated that the position stated in the Court papers filed in support of the liquidation proceedings and subsequent statutory filings were factually incorrect. “As is demonstrated in the Asset and Liability section above these figures were not a true reflection of the company’s financial position. In fact, the position was materially worse.” According to Tlhagale, BMWU has always opposed the decision by government to close the mine as it was still economically viable. Last year following the mine’s closure pending its liquidation, BMWU members descended on Gaborone in numbers to deliver a petition to government stating their stance in the matter. In the petition, the miners opposed "the sudden and unwarranted closure of these mines (BCL and Tati nickel)”, saying the liquidation was not only shocking but most inappropriate. They argued that: BCL mine was still a viable business of considerable economic value and could make profits if it was freed of mismanagement; and also that Tati Nickel mine too was a viable operation not in debt trap; and that reasons given to justify closure were inaccurate.
They, therefore proposed: That the entire liquidation process be set aside to save a total of 6 000 jobs and to remove the inherent socio-economic upheavals affecting the nation at large; a debriefing meeting with Khama to understand the workers' position; an enquiry into recommendations by BCL and Tati Nickel Management, Mineral Development Corporation Botswana (MDCB) and cabinet sub-committee; permission to conduct independent private investigation into operations of the smelter and mining development; the amendment of Insolvency Act and the Company's Act to protect the rights of workers during liquidation process. BMWU later went back on its intention to conduct independent private investigations into operations of the smelter and mining developments. The 2016 petition was however not the first to be submitted by the union to government. Their efforts and call to government to attend to the BCL mess were either ignored or dismissed.