Employees of United Refineries Botswana, an oil company co-owned by Tati East Member of Parliament Samson Guma Moyo, CEDA and Mmoloki Tibe have accused management of flouting regulations.
In an interview with The Voice, some employees who stormed Moyo’s constituency office in Francistown this week to demand payment of their deferred salaries said the site has been operating without running water and electricity.
A disgruntled employee, Jobe Mphato, who claimed to be owed over a year’s salary in arrears said security guards at the premises have to bring their own drinking water and use the nearby bushes to relieve themselves.
The 44-year-old told The Voice that his former colleagues are in danger of being attacked by criminals whenever they have go to the bushes to answer a call of nature.
“In fact they were recently attacked because it is very dark there and the site is in the remotest area of Dumela Industrial site,” he said.
His colleague, Bathami Mbati who also spoke on behalf of the over 30 employees demanding payment from the embattled company, said the company could be operating an unlicensed security company.
“At one point they engaged reputable local security companies but due to their failure to honor their contractual obligations, companies terminated their contracts. They then recruited some staff members including myself and set up an internal security company,” claimed Mbati.
When The Voice visited the company premises at Dumela Industrial, a security guard manning the gate was reluctant to talk about the working conditions for fear of losing his job, but he admitted that there was no toilet or drinking water. “Ke a iphandlela” (meaning I make a plan), he said.”
The Voice also contacted the company’s Managing Director, Mmoloki Tibe, who dismissed the accusations by the disgruntled employees. “We are law abiding citizens and the same goes for our company. If however there’s anyone who’s of the view that we’re flouting the law, there are established processes to be followed to get redress. One thing for sure though and will apply to all future allegations, is that we can’t run the company through the media,” he said in response to texted questions.
Tibe however admitted that they owe staff salaries and said they were committed to settling the arrears in time for Christmas.
He attributed their cash flow problems to the nature of the business and accused local retailers of shunning locally produced oil. “We produce per order and the order has to be sizeable given the plant capacity of 70 tons per day,” he said.
Tibe said their challenge has been small orders which they have to accumulate to make it a viable order.
He said they are also worried because some retailers in South Africa will sell a 2litre of cooking oil at R45 and sell the same here for P30. “You can check for yourself. I mean the same brand, it is shocking. Obviously people are dumping,” he said.