Thursday, October 1, 2020

How Khama makes Mokaila a liar

Former Minister of Minerals Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security comes across a big liar in court paper because he made a written undertaking that BCL mine would not be liquidated only for the mine to be put under liquidation less than ten months later.

Mokaila wrote on the 30th December 2015 that “government of Botswana is the 100% share holder in BCL and that the outstanding debts will be fully repaid from the proceeds of the current BCL concentrate stocks or the proceeds of BCL’s refinancing options being contemplated, whichever is realized earlier.”

The minister assured one of the service providers, EPIROC that Government would ensure that BCL is competently managed and supported so as to be able to at all times to meet its financial obligations. He made a further commitment that government would not permit BCL to enter into liquidation (whether voluntarily or compulsory) or enter into any compromise with any of its creditors.

Before the ink on Mokaila’s commitment later had dried, in September 2018 Cabinet decided to put BCL under liquidation.

In the 10 months between Mokaila’s letter and Cabinet’s decision the minister and his intergrity became collateral damage in political manoeuvres allegedly by some powerful business and political interests to lay their hands on diamonds deposits discovered by BCL in the CKGR.

While Mokaila was resisting the BCL liquidation and tried to convince Cabinet against the decision, the then President Lt Gen Ian Khama immediately stepped in and roiled the water with a cabinet reshuffle, appointing Sadique Kebonang to the ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security and moving Mokaila to the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

The curious cabinet reshuffle threw mining industry watchers into a confused “who farted? Pass the gas game”. While fingers pointed to Kebonang as the party pooper, the former minister told the Sunday Standard that when he was appointed to the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Cabinet had already made a decision to close down the BCL mine and “there was nothing I could do. Kebonang said “BCL was liquidated during the first Cabinet meeting with the decision having almost been made before I became a Minister. The recommendation came from the Cabinet Ministerial Committee among others. The other recommendation came from Paul Smith of MDCB (state-run Minerals Development Company of Botswana).”

While the country was still reeling from the shock of the sudden closure of BCL mine, former President Khama’s nephew was up and about trying  to sell the BCL Mine diamond licence.

Sunday Standard investigations have turned up an SMS message from Ian Khama’s nephew (name withheld) to a colleague in the industry asking him for help to find a buyer for the BCL diamond mining licence.

The SMS message is one of the many pieces in the jigsaw puzzle that add to the emerging picture that powerful vested interests with political connections pushed for the closure of BCL to lay their hands on the company’s “substantial diamond deposits” discovery in the CKGR.
 

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