*Former BCL employees refuse to vacate company houses * Government pays BCL P1.8million monthly rental

Friction between former BCL mine employees, the Liquidator and government, is far from over as a good number of people occupying the mine houses refuse to vacate or pay rent.

The liquidator is preparing the final winding up and has set the first quarter of next year as deadline to pack and go. Since the closure of the mine, government has been paying rental for the former employees forking out between P1.5 to P2million every month. Botswana Guardian has it on good authority that the last payment that government made is P1.8 million. The latest set of former employees who refuse to vacate mine houses are security guards who were engaged by the Liquidator to continue providing service after the mine closed in October 2016.

The guards who hold different positions with salaries ranging from P2400 to P13000 were laid off in June and given three months notice to vacate the houses or come in as third parties entering contract as tenants on monthly basis.

They have refused to budge, questioning why they are being discriminated as compared to other former employees who still enjoy free accommodation.

The guards argue that they have been paying affordable rentals of P43 per month, as well as paying for their electricity and water and with the new arrangement; they are expected to pay P1800 per month which is unaffordable.

After starting the liquidation process, the liquidator engaged the services of a company called BelServest Botswana (Pty) Limited as Facility and Rental Managers. This is the company that wants former employees to vacate the houses by October 31st.

In an interview with Botswana Guardian Property Manager, Thuku Bareeleng confirmed having written letters to the former employees.

"It is true we issued, letters, but I must say most of the people that we wrote to refused to accept such letters. They then told us that they are going back to BCL where they will put their case across and or enquire with the BCL

Housing Superintendent, Majaga Majaga. It is the same Majaga who furnished us with a list of staff who have been relieved from their respective duties," Bareeleng said.

This was sometime in June. The BCL office also gave the said employees three months to wind up and vacate the houses by October 31st at the beggining of this month.

"Majaga furnished us with a list of those who are affected by the instruction that for such former employees to continue occupying the house, it is either they pay monthly rent or vacate the houses”.

Bareeleng explained that as agents, they have simply played their part by forwarding the response of the former employees to BCL housing superintendent. The matter is being handled by Majaga himself and is waiting for their response and instruction.

"I want to believe that the Liquidator is still consulting on what to do with the rest of the former employees occupying houses," he said, further pointing out that the lease for government to pay rental expired in March.

Government has been paying P1.6 million per month as rental. Both parties said they are still in consultation before referring this publication to Majaga and the Liquidator. Majaga could not be drawn to comment, save to say a response should be sought from the liquidator.

The liquidator, Darusha Moodliar was also not available to comment until press time despite a promise that she would revert.

Briefing parliament at some stage, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Lefoko Moagi said the new BCL Group Liquidators have received P292 million from government as funding for general administration of the estate, including the running costs of care and maintenance for the assets.

Government has also paid a total of P52 million for rentals of the Tati and BCL houses. Moagi told parliament that in 2019, the new liquidators identified and sold certain non-core assets through an auction, and the auction raised over P6 million.