Several tribal leaders in Maun have called on contractors engaged for final phases of the Maun Water Supply and Sanitation project to prioritise locals especially the youth for employment opportunities.
They specifically called for residents of Ngamiland to be given an upper hand before those from other parts of the country for the two phases of the project that are to carried out in in Sexaxa, Shorobe, Matsaudi villages as well as in Matshwane and Moeti Wards.
The responses by the residents nearly erupted into chaos during a Kgotla meeting addressed by the management from the project contractors China Jiangsu and Sharps construction to brief the residents about the procedure they will use to employ people at their respective companies.
China Jiangsu/Ezzra Ezzra Join Venture Project Manager, Uyapo Pitso informed residents that they will use the ‘Yes or No’ criteria for non- skilled labour while those who are skilled will be hired from the labour office.
The suggestion for the skilled workers to be employed at the labour office did not sit well with the residents, especially some Dikgosi who demanded to know if the contractors will indeed employ local people among those that will be needed.
Kgosi Mouricio Bendu of Bombadi Ward strongly opposed the suggestion of employing people using the labour office, arguing that they are usually fooled by the criteria as companies who came before have failed to give priority to locals but to those from outside the district.
He claimed that most of the companies that come to work in Maun mostly employ people from outside Maun and at times foreigner are employed as heads of those projects and sub-contractors.
“Most of our own companies in Maun have collapsed because all the tenders and projects are given to either Chinese or other tribes, a naare ke bone ba ba itseng tiro hela go na le rona mono,” he questioned.
Bendu called for transparency in all the recruitment processes, suggesting that the companies should instead use the kgotla to employ people just like they came to inform them about the ongoing project.
“We want you to come and advertise here at the kgotla and our children will apply and then write the interviews here rather than to go to Labour office,” he stressed.
Another disgruntled chief, Kgosi Molefabangwe Setlhare of Sanyedi Ward also complained that almost all the construction companies come to Maun with their own workers though there are capable local people for such posts in the area.
He further complained that most of the tenders are awarded to companies from Gaborone despite the projects being constructed in Maun. Setlhare quipped that in Maun they only settle for laborers and sub contracts out of the huge cake.
“If you continue to give all the tenders to Ma-Gaborone then there is no need for you to come here and inform us about such projects because we don’t benefit from them. You think we are for Yes or No material, we also have qualifications for those projects and we need to be given opportunity to tender for them,” he criticized.
Geoflux Executive Director Keamogetse Mogae who is the environmental supervising company tried in vain to help direct the conversation to the main objective of the day rather than to argue on things that they cannot answer for.
“We are not supposed to point fingers at each other and please let us stop tribalism in such issues like this. Today is the day to rejoice to the good news of such projects coming into our village than to fight each other,” she pleaded.
However, Mogae’s plea was just that, and was immediately followed by elder Segone Mosepele who raised his hand in contention and argued that indeed there is a need for government to start realizing that they are not unskilled and therefore need to be benefit equally, if not more from tenders and projects in their area.