Sunday, September 27, 2020

Khama cashed in on controversial BDC plots sale

President Ian Khama’s private company, Murton (Pty) Ltd, made a killing in the P27 million controversial sale of Lion Park Small Holding plots whilst shareholder in the Botswana Development Corporation’s (BDC) subsidiary – Malutu Enterprises (Pty) Ltd.

While the company is no longer a shareholder in the BDC’s now wholly-owned subsidiary, the corporation has previously refused to divulge information regarding the involvement of President Khama’s friends and business partners in the sale of plots. The BDC said it would not discuss confidential official business with the media.

This was when the Sunday Standard sought an explanation as to why and how some of the individuals whose company’s services were enlisted by the BDC to facilitate the sale of the plots, held directorships in the corporation’s subsidiary ÔÇô Malutu Enterprises (Pty) Ltd at the time of the sale.

Sources allege that after the sale of the plots, the corporation’s subsidiary declared a dividend paving the way for Murton (Pty) Ltd to pull out from its shareholding in Malutu Enterprises (Pty).
The Sunday Standard investigations have revealed that Khama, who was appointed director on 2 December 2002 while he was Vice President, holds 20 percent shares in Murton (Pty) Ltd. High Court Judge David John Newman and businessman Charles Hugh Sheldon both hold 40 percent shares each according to a list of shareholders in Murton (Pty) Ltd. The Memorandum and Articles of Association of Murton (Proprietary) limited were prepared by Collins Newman & Company. Collins Newman & Company was also engaged by the BDC subsidiary for bond transfer of the sold plots.

President Khama’s private secretary, Maleta Mogwe, despite being accorded sufficient time did not respond on the President’s business dealings with Sheldon and Justice Newman.

At the time of the sale of plots in 2006, Sheldon, through his company Murton (Pty) Ltd, was a shareholder in Malutu Enterprises (Pty) Ltd. His company Premier Projects was an agent for Malutu Enterprises during the sale of the plots.

Similarly, Newman was director in both Malutu Enterprises (Pty) Ltd and Murton (Pty) Ltd while he was a partner at Collins Newman & Company at the time of the sale. His law firm was enlisted by the BDC subsidiary for bond transfer of the sold plots. Both Newman and Sheldon have not entertained enquiries by this publication.

At the time of the sale, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo, was the BDC managing director. Matambo is among those who bought the plots.

The sale is marred by controversy with some of the people who purchased the plots in 2006 now being unable to develop them because the area is zoned by the Department of Town and Regional Planning (DTRP) as not suitable for high density housing. Lion Park Small Holdings is traversed by Metsimaswaane River which flows to Gaborone Dam. In the absence of a sewer reticulation grid, a high density development in the area threatens to contaminate the river and the Gaborone Dam. It is believed that some big shots bought the plots with the expectations that President Khama would facilitate the connections to water and the sewage grid as his company was involved in the sale of the plots.

At least one BDC employee has dragged the corporation and its subsidiary before the courts after being sold a donga as an agricultural holding while the plot had been zoned as an open space – a deviation of the Town and Country Planning Act of 1977.

According to the Ministry of Lands and Housing spokesman, Lebotsang Mohutsiwa, Lion Park Small Holdings are zoned as agricultural land use with two portions zoned open space.

“When cases of deviation from an approved layout arise, the responsible planning authority will start the process of enforcement as stated under section 18 (4) of the Town and Country Planning Act. In some cases, the developer may be required to discontinue the non-complying development,” says Mohutsiwa.

The 100 plots, measuring about 4 hectares each, on average fetched just over P270 000 (Two hundred and seventy thousand pula) at the time of the sale in 2006.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.