Botswana’s most powerful law firm, Collins Newman & Company has hit the rocks following a break up between partners Parks Tafa and Rizwan Desai.
Rizwan who co ÔÇô owns Collins Newman & Company will be leaving the firm end of July and striking out on his own.
Sunday Standard has established that the two partners and long time friends have fallen out over direction of the firm.
A Motswana of Indian extraction, Desai wants to roll back the firm’s excessive involvement in politics and go back to where it was when it was established by Peter Collins and David Newman, who had founded it as a commercial law practice.
Speaking to Sunday Standard, Desai confirmed that the partners were talking to each other about possible separation, but said no decision has been taken, including talking to staff.
“The Partners are in talks. When time is right, we will make a formal announcement,” Desai said curtly.
The two partners own the firm on a 50/50 basis.
Collins Newman & Co has been the country’s leading law firm, favoured by the rich and powerful, including cabinet ministers, captains of industries and big corporations.
The firm counts among its clients President Ian Khama, his family, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, Finance and Development planning Minister Kenneth Matambo, former ministers Ramadeluka Seretse, Charles Tibone, leading businessmen Satar Dada and the late Louis Nchindo who was Debswana Diamond Company Managing Director.
Desai insisted that his decision to leave has nothing to do with the ailing health of his partner, Tafa who over the last two years has had to scale down on the amount of work he did for the firm.
“It has nothing to do with that. I still call him my brother,” said Desai.
But an insider at the firm said the separation of the two men has been in the offing for some time.
He said it is a result of a number of factors, including Tafa’s resolute refusal to relinquish some of his powers and authority in line with his reduced work load and time dedicated to the practice.
The source said any chances of a truce between the two friends, both of who have not worked for any other firm but Collins Newman & Co are growing slim by the day.
It is not clear how the firm will fare without the services of one of its anchors, who has been a direct link with the commercial sector, while Tafa took care of political influence.
Desai has been responsible for Banking and Finance, Capital Markets, Corporate and Commercial, Corporate Mergers & Acquisitions, Energy, Natural and Renewable Resources with the firm.
“We do not share any confidential information with external parties and if there are any internal formal discussions with regard to that it will be formally announced,” said Desai when pushed to provide more details on what will become of Collins Newman & Co without him.
The 40 year old Collins Newman & Co has provided premier legal services in the corporate, commercial and mining fields.
The firm is easily the biggest in Botswana by turnover which in some good years is said to have exceeded P60 million in gross revenues.