Regional Magistrate Lot Moroka has pointed an accusing finger at the Debswana board for sleeping on the job during the late Louis Nchindo’s reign as head of Debswana.
Moroka stated this while sentencing Joseph Matome to two years imprisonment in the Nchindo graft case.
Pronouncing sentence, Moroka said that “evidence points a picture of grave lapse of Corporate Governance and Ethical Standards at Debswana while the late Louis Goodwill Nchindo was at the helm”.
“The question is where was the board of Directors? If a repeat of this bad governance is to be avoided at Debswana and at all similarly placed organisations, the board of Directors will have to look at itself. CEOs must never be allowed to be bigger than the organisation they serve…The corporate tail must never wag the dog as was the case at Debswana,” said Moroka.
He said that the case against Nchindo and Matome was centred on corporate governance.
“This case in its entirety is centred on Corporate Governance in perhaps the most important company in the livelihoods and destiny of Botswana as a prosperous company,” the magistrate said.
He said that by the very reason that Debswana was a company of partnership between the Botswana government and De Beers mining company the running of the company was important for Batswana.
“Good Corporate Governance at Debswana is good for the destiny of Botswana…similarly bad corporate governance at Debswana potentially imperils the future of Botswana,” he stated.
Sentencing Matome to a prison term of two years for the first two offences, Moroka said that as a senior Debswana executive, Matome, together with the late Nchindo, threw the good corporate governance book through the window at Debswana headquarters to the detriment of the public.
“The accused was engaged in an elaborate plan to defraud not only Debswana of prized possessions but also contributed to the defrauding of the people and government of Botswana of precious and highly scarce land,” the magistrate added.
He said that despite the fact that Matome was a first offender he deserved to go to jail because his role in the offences committed was immense.
He said that Matome has not shown remorse. He said that Matome was a man with ‘disregard to ethical governance as he rigged the tendering process for the sale of a Debswana house in favour of the late Louis Nchindo.
Moroka also sentenced Garvas Nchindo to a suspended sentence of two years. He said that the younger Nchindo was ‘sucked into the offences by accident of birth’ to the late Louis Nchindo.
While the Nchindos who had thronged court showed a sign of relief, family members and friends of Matome could only watch in despair as the man was whisked away to prison to begin his sentence.
The court has ruled that the land that was allocated to Tourism Development Consortium (TDC) is now state land because it was obtained fraudulently. The court has also stated that the House that the late Louis Nchindo bought through a rigged auction bid reverts back to Debswana.
The Defence has indicated that it will appeal Moroka’s judgement and sentence.