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BY THOBO MOTLHOKA
Following decades of dominating business tenders at the Botswana Defense Force (BDF) Seleka Springs is reportedly beginning to feel the pinch now that Ian Khama is no longer at the helm.
A source close to the company has revealed to Sunday Standard that it is no longer business as usual for Seleka Springs, owned by the Khama brothers Tshekedi and Anthony .
According to the source, signs of strained relations between the former president and his predecessor Mokgweetsi Masisi are beginning to reflect on the company, whose business interests have predominantly hinged on government, especially BDF tenders.
Details of the company’s dealings with the BDF immerged in recent years during Khama’s tenure as president, showing how the company was linked to almost all major suppliers of military equipment to the BDF.
According reports in recent years, it was at one time impossible to procure any major equipment for the Defense Force without involvement of the Khamas. The company, it has been reported, dominated procurement by holding agency licenses for major military suppliers overseas.
In 2015 Minister of Defense Shaw Kgathi revealed to Parliament that Seleka Springs had benefited over P100 million worth of business from acting as agents for companies doing business with the BDF since 1989, when Khama replaced the late Mompati Merafhe as Army Commander.
Kgathi revealed, in 2015, that Seleka Springs had acted as agents for several companies for the supply of specialized equipment, ammunition and spares. Some of the companies that engaged Seleka Springs, Kgathi said, included Avis Vickers from United Kingdom, Steyr-Daimler and FN Herstal from South Africa and Belgium respectively.
The company had been paid at least P102 million spanning 24 years from 1989 to 2012. He said the company was also awarded a tender by Botswana Police in 2000 to supply rifles and pistols. It was the first time that the company’s dealings with the government had been made public.
Kgathi had earlier denied the Khama twins’ business involvement with the BDF when their brother was still Commander.
Their involvement in BDF tenders had remained a closely guarded secret until then Minister of Defense Lesego Motsumi revealed Seleka Springs had been awarded tenders by BDF between 1980 and 1998. Grave mistake. Motsumi would later pay the prize when she was dropped from parliament by Khama and redeployed to a diplomatic role as ambassador.
Now a year since Khama left office, ceasing to hold a position of political or military influence for the first time in four decades, his brothers’ company is beginning to feel the effects.
His war with President Masisi has also begun to be a cause for concern among his family, with one of his nephews reportedly confiding in a friend that they believe Khama has taken the fight too far. “He said he initially thought the fight between the two would remain confined to disagreements over the use of state aircraft but now it has taken a turn for the worse,” a source said.
Although he launched a tirade against his predecessor in Serowe last weekend Khama did, albeit fleetingly, seem to adopt a conciliatory tone, expressing disappointment at Masisi’s apparent unwillingness to sit down and talk. “Masisi wont’ call me to sit down and talk,” he told Bangwato. “But he was quick to call Mma V (Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi) after Kang and sending (Slumber) Tsogwane to go and preach unity.”