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Tati Nickel not closing down

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Tati Nickel mine in Francistown has vehemently rubbished widespread allegations that it is on the brink of liquidation and closure. Public Relations manager, Tebogo Rapitsenyane informed The Midweek Sun that the company is not bankrupt or on the brink of closure.

“When the Bamangwato Concession Limited (BCL) smelter went under major refurbishments last year, we were producing but not selling anything which resulted in the mine experiencing cashflow problems,” he said, further noting that, “our ore was stock piled as we waited for the smelter to be completed and the whole process of refurbishment took roughly four months as we only started to use it in November last year.”

Rapitsenyane argued that it was also good for the smelter which has been in operation for some decades to be refurbished as new components and parts were installed.

He said that during that time there was no money coming into the mine. Instead the mine had to pay staff salaries and became indebted to its various suppliers whom he said understood their woes. Rapitsenyane also stressed that as a result of the declining prices of metals, it will take the mine some time to recover.

“For the mine to come out of the cash flow problem, we have decided to strategise by implementing strict cash control measures. These include suspending further training and recruitment of staff to save whatever little cashflow we have.” According to Rapitsenyane the mine has experienced worst challenges before and there is no need for people to press panic buttons unnecessarily. He argued, “Metal prices are going down every year and despite this, retrenchment has never been on our menu since the mine is not indebted to any bank for any major loans. We normally apply for small loans in various local banks to ease pressure of cash flow when faced with such problems.’’

He revealed that the mine plant is fully paid for and that the only expenditure they incur are monthly staff salaries, paying suppliers and maintenance of available transportation and other in-house equipment.

“Since government is a major shareholder in the company, Tati Nickel found nothing wrong to inform the responsible ministry of its current cashflow woes which will soon be water under the bridge. We never begged the government to bail us out financially as it is rumoured, but only informed them of our situation as our main partner,” he clarified.

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BATTLE FOR MMADIKOLO

The MidweekSun Admin

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University of Botswana students are bracing themselves for the Student Representative Council (SRC) elections. Contenders are fighting tooth and nail to appease the electorate. Three camps are in contention to fill the 13 council positions.

Umbrella for Democratic Change’s (UDC) Moono-wa-Baithuti has the onerous task of defending all the 13 seats which they hauled at the last elections of 2018. “As Moono wa Baithuti, we have lots of achievements. We are on the verge of getting the student bar open, so we need to go back and fix what we started,” said UDC’s Tumelo Legase who is vying for the position of Vice President.

He said they have advocated for student empowerment policies and are also proposing a third arm of student representation. “We have the SRC and the Judiciary, what we need is the student Parliament so that we have a large number of leaders who can independently attend to problems across the university.” The dark horse in this race is the University of Botswana’s Alliance for Progressive (AP) which will take another leap of faith despite their loss in the previous election.

They are rejuvenated and redefined. Candidate for Vice President Karabo Bokwe said central to their mandate is making the welfare of the student community a priority. “We want to help eradicate school policies that border on oppression, and through new polices call for initiatives that come with enterprenuership benefits to students.”

AP candidate for Information and Publicity, a first year Criminal Justice student Gracious Selelo said they are more united than other parties even at national level. “We don’t have internal squabbles within our party, we are more focused and can deliver our mandate easily,” she noted.

However the ruling party’s BDP GS-26 will come with all guns blazing after an embarrassing defeat in the previous elections. Preparations have been made and the GS-26 is looking to take the elections by storm.

According to their Presidential Candidate Boniface Seane, they come with the message of hope that addresses the current status quo at the University.“The university is not functioning so we drew three policies that embrace inclusiveness. We want to lead collectively with the students, through the student body meetings which the previous SRCs have failed to do. “We will consult with the students with no discrimination.”

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Healthcare system to improve

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The Health ministry has developed a seven-point programme to guide the country in improving the healthcare system, says Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Rabashemi Madigele.

“The seven priority areas will serve as a roadmap and a guardian angel towards improving the overall healthcare system and increasing access to health care while fighting the burden of disease that confronts us,” said Madigele at Masa Square Hotel on Tuesday.

The focal areas include decentralisation; Universal Health Coverage, Tertiary Care, Strategic leveraging on the Private sector; Supply Chain; Research as well as Staff welfare and accountability.
Point-one of the seven priority areas according to Dr Madigele is about empowering the District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) and transforming them into fully fledged Regional Health Authorities.

“In this case, they will be rationalised from 27 to 18 and have the authority to hire A and B Scales, promote up to C1 and manage micro procurement,” he said. Point two is about improving the quality of healthcare services. “The main causes of mortality and their risk factors in Botswana are Primary Health Care issues,” Dr Madigele said.

He added that “Our efforts for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage should thus focus on: Prevention; Comprehensive screening; Early treatment; and Surveillance at the community.”
This he said, would require revamped grassroots efforts in which adequate numbers of community health workers through partnerships with the non-governmental sector will be deployed as necessary.

According to Dr Madigele, the top five causes of death in Botswana in 2017 were HIV/AIDS, Ischemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections and Diabetes. He said compared to 2007, NCDs among these had increased in burden by an average of 34%. The top five risk factors related to these causes of mortality were unsafe sex; poor diet; high blood pressure; alcohol abuse and tobacco use.

Improving the quality of care, Madigele said will also include the safety and security of patients; attitudes of staff as experienced by patients; time taken in queues either before seeing a health worker or receiving medication and the availability of drugs.

Meanwhile, the health minister revealed that the commissioning of Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) is ongoing with the facility scheduled for opening on April 24th. “This will be a phased approach commencing with some services including paediatric oncology, internal medicine, rheumatology and endocrinology, diagnostic radiology, laboratory services and pharmacy”.

A phased commissioning of SKMTH will reduce overdependence on South Africa for referrals, reduce costs and also institutionalise provision of super specialist services within Botswana.

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