GABORONE- Renowned local economist, Dr Keith Jefferies of Econsult Botswana on Monday slammed the ‘strategic’ decision by Debswana Mining Company- a joint venture between the government of Botswana and mining giant De Beers- to keep its financial statements secret as an unacceptable gesture that works against the ideals of corporate governance and transparency.
Despite its being a major player in the economy of Botswana, Debswana does not publicise some key financial information, a scenario which Jefferies has described as unacceptable.
“It is unacceptable for Debswana as a big company that is key to this economy not to publish its financial statements,” Jefferies said Monday.
Debswana is the largest contributor to Botswana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and has to date chosen not to make its financial data, including income.
The company is however generally viewed as public as it is partly owned by the Botswana government and Anglo American through DeBeers which is a publicly listed company.
On Monday, Jefferies suggested that the failure to give out such critical information could be negatively working against the country’s economic prosperity. Jefferies, who is a former Deputy Governor at Bank of Botswana was invited as one of the key speakers at a conference dubbed “connecting resources and society”. The conference, organised by Chatham House, a world-renowned independent policy institute, was hosted jointly by De Beers Group of Companies and the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources. Currently Debswana shares most of its operational data through a shareholders annual report. Other key financial figures are usually accessible through the parent company, Anglo American which is listed at the Stock Exchange.
Meanwhile Dr. Jefferies further stated that the acknowledgment and understanding of laws that govern minerals and trade-offs in Botswana amongst the public is regrettably low. The Econsult Botswana Managing Director noted that his sentiments were proven right by the debate regarding the recent discovery of the world’s second largest diamond at Karowe mine.
The conference coincided with the publication of a report from De Beers exploring the socio-economic contribution to Botswana of its longstanding partnership with the government.