Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Debswana named in blood diamond deals

A SADC research report claims that there are “suggestions of covert collaborations between Botswana authorities, Debswana and the South African National Intelligence Services (NIS) towards the end of Apartheid”.

The report by Bench Mark Foundation, which will be launched in South Africa on Wednesday, says that is why mercenary outfit, Executive Outcomes, founder Eeben Barlow was contracted to design Debswana security training manuals, to conduct training and give advice for De Beers and Debswana security personnel.

Barlow’s connections with the DeBeers diamond cartel allegedly helped expedite the start-up of Executive Outcomes. Barlow worked for DeBeers in the late ’80s and early ’90s, handling DeBeers’ corporate counterintelligence. He was also contracted to establish and train a covert group for the De Beers diamond company in Botswana, Debswana, with the aim of infiltrating and penetrating the illegal diamond-buying and smuggling syndicates.

Executive Outcomes’ corporate structure is highly elaborate and winds around the globe. It is constantly evolving and changing. Investigations into a Hong Kong bank account in the name Executive Outcome /Sandline Holdings turned up the signature of Barlow along side than of Simon Mann, currently languishing in a Zimbabwean jail having been arrested for participating in an alleged coup in Equatorial Guinea in exchange for oil concessions.

The Debswana contract with Barlow allegedly came to an end when Executive Outcomes was contracted by the MPLA government in Angola to fight against UNITA in 1993. With funding from the Angolan state oil company, Simon Mann spearheaded a very dangerous operation with Barlow’s Executive Outcomes using only a few MiG helicopters and a few dozen black African expat mercenaries, which would be transported by ship. Mann and Barlow eventually defeated the UNITA.

Soon after, Mann and Barlow were given another contract by the dos Santos government to deal directly with UNITA forces, and by 1994 the company “dramatically tilted the balance of the conflict”. By November 2004, the two warring sides signed the Lusaka Protocol, temporarily ending the conflict in Angola.

According to the report, the Debswana contract with Barlow was terminated because De Beers saw the relationship between Barlow and the MPLA government “as a threat to its illicit trade in conflict diamonds” with UNITA.

The report further states that “there are reports that Botswana between 1997 and 1998 bought 1 675 StG-58 assault riffles in the illicit arms trade market from a Swiss company Brugger & Thomet, who obtained the weapons illegally from Austrian Army Surplus stock”.

Disturbingly, the UNHCR reports that the ruling People’s Party in Austria received illicit campaign funds from Botswana in Vienna municipal election in 2001 in return for another shady arms deal. It is not surprising that Vienna is the fashion and jeweler capital of Austria, stated the report.

Lt ÔÇôCol Barlow is a former member of the ApartheidÔÇôera South African Defense Force (SADF) and was second in command of its elite special forces Battalion 32 Reconnaissance Wing. He later served in Military Intelligence as an agent handler and later as an operative and region commander in the ultra ÔÇô Secret Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB)
The report names President Quett Masire in questionable deals with boiler room operators linked into international mercenaries. This follows a story carried exclusively by Sunday Standard three years ago linking Masire to Global Afrika Resource & Ernegy Corporation, a mysterious South African unlisted public company whose directors are linked to global mercenaries.

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The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.