The Francistown College of Technical and Vocational Education (FCTVE) management and students, have since December 2017, not tasted their salaries and living allowances respectively, due to cash flow challenges experienced by the sponsor, Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM).
In December, the students only got paid eight hundred Pula (P800) which is nowhere near to P3,500 stipulated in their contract with BCM. After the December allowance cut, the students were told that the little funds left in BCM’s accounts was used to purchase tool boxes to be used by students for study purposes. At the beginning of the year, students went straight to attachment at different mines and life has been hell. Students have revealed to this publication that the management has continually played hide and seek when they demanded answers pertaining to the monies they are owed.
When students enquired on the delay of payments of their allowances, BCM management assured them that the matter has been brought before the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security as well as the General Assembly (parliament).
BCM management through the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Charles Siwawa, told the students that they are doing everything they can to secure funds for the Francistown College. On two occasions, Siwawa promised the students that they would receive their living allowances, only for month end to come and go twice with no allowances paid to them. One of the meetings that the CEO addressed was at Jwaneng Diamond Mine where he guaranteed payment to the students.
The students lament that they owe rent that dates back to December as the amount they got paid at that time only covered their transport to go home during the festive season. “We rent rooms in Francistown but we have never paid rent fees since December. Right now I am attaching in Jwaneng but I do not have transport and toiletry money, I depend on my brother for everything,” cried one of the students.
Each student is owed allowances that do go up to twenty thousand Pula (P20 000). As if this is not enough, the students have had to wait for a full academic year after applying and being accepted at the school. There was no proper communication as to why the students had to wait that long as the application was complete but the students were only summoned to the school after more than twelve months later.
Recent media reports surprisingly pronounced the termination of students’ contracts with BCM which is peculiar as students are currently doing attachments at different mines across the country. “
“It is news to me that our contract with the company has reached a terminal point with no communication from the college or the CEO. I will continue with my attachment and not mind that media report as it is clouded with loopholes and cannot be trusted,” asserted the anonymous student.
The students have been lobbying influential figures and members of Parliament (MPs) to stand with them when the matter is brought before different boards and Parliament. A letter written and signed by a select number of students has been circulating an attempt to garner support for their cause.
Reached for comment, CEO Siwawa indicated that they are aware of the issue with students and they are doing everything in their power to resolve it. “We know we have issues with students and it is taking long but it is just the nature of the process. At the moment, we are heavily involved in getting to the bottom of this matter and the discussions are intense,” he said. Siwawa dismissed outright, reports of termination of students’ contracts with BCM.
The duration of the apprenticeship training is four years inclusive of three months’ institutional training, three months of competency based modularised training (CBMT) and six months industrial training annually with Botswana College of Engineering and Technology (BCET) in Gaborone and Francistown College of Technical and Vocational Education (FCTVE).as the training centres.