Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Botswana, UK ruined my aviation business ÔÇô businessman

A citizen businessman who ran direct cargo flights in Botswana successfully until he was named along persons suspected of supplying UNITA with fuel more than a decade ago is fuming with anger.

He claims that he is unable to grow his aviation business either locally or internationally because the allegations made against him by a British senior politician and dismissed as baseless by the government of Botswana have forever clipped his wings.

Denis Coghlan wants a retraction from a British Member of Parliamnet (MP) Peter Hain, who in 2000 named him along four other persons as “people who make money out of misery” for alleged involvement in the supply of petroleum and petroleum products to UNITA.┬á┬á

The UN Security Council said in its final report on UNITA┬á in 2000 that “during its visit to Botswana, the Mechanism followed up on a consignment of fuel, reported to be in the possession of a national of Botswana, Mr. Denis Coghlan, which was suspected to have been destined for UNITA. The Mechanism was informed by the Government of Botswana that an investigation had been carried out on the matter. They informed the Mechanism that Mr. Coghlan had explained that the drums of fuel had been destined for Rwanda but had to be returned to source in South Africa due to logistical problems. Whatever the case, the Mechanism was informed that the situation was being kept under constant monitoring”.

He says he is unable to buy aircraft since the inaccurate harmful allegations made by Hain against him14 years ago remain the source of his business troubles.

The British High Commission in Gaborone would not say whether or not Hain has intentions to retract his remarks after the United Nations Security Council final report on UNITA absolved Coghlan from such allegations in 2000. All what the British High┬áCommission’s Press and Public Affairs Officer Keba Tsie┬ácould say was that “the sanctions you refer have long since been lifted┬╗.

“I was interrogated in 1999 by everyone in authority except the President.┬á The Head of the Criminal Investigation would later tell me the allegation that was transporting fuel to UNITA was unfounded. When I asked for a copy of the report of the outcome of the investigation I could not get it. It was stamped secret,” said Coghlan.

This week Fana Maswabi of the Botswana Defence Force said Coghlan was never under Military Intelligence surveillance.

Coghlan, also alleges that the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) is reluctant to fund his business proposal to operate direct flights between Botswana and Europe. He claims to have applied for funding to the tune of US$20 million with the intention to contribute $2 million. He further claims that BDC told him his project proposal satisfied the corporation’s investment criteria.

“All applications for funding and their content, scope and details are confidential and cannot be discussed with third parties,” says Boitshwarelo Lebang, the BDC Corporate Communications and Public Relations Manager.

The businessman claims Botswana is losing about P1 billion annually as money that would otherwise accrue to her economy if there were direct flights from Botswana to Europe.

The aviation businessman says he has begun engaging Google to correct his personal data following on a similar successful request by another individual in May this year in what is known as The Right to be Forgotten. It is a right which is given to all citizens in the EU, no matter their nationality.


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