The planned parliamentary debate on the findings of the Special Select Committee of Parliament on the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) may be suspended following a decision by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo, to launch a court case challenging the validity and findings of the report.
Matambo’s lawyers argue that the findings by the Special Select Committee of Parliament are baseless allegations carrying the equivalence of street gossip, Matambo’s lawyers have stated.
The lawsuit has been confirmed by Matambo’s lawyer, Parks Tafa.
“Yes there will be an action…but I cannot disclose the details,” said Tafa in a brief interview with The Sunday Standard. Matambo is also threatening defamation suits against a number of media houses following publications of the damning allegations contained in the report.
According to Matambo’s lawyers, the report has no legal basis and it is just a mere opinion which, unfortunately, has had a devastating effect on Matambo’s reputation as a government official.
The minister has been disturbed by the fact that the Select Committee conducted its affairs in camera and interviewed people who made serious allegations against the minister and BDC’s top management.
Matambo is irked by the fact that the committee sent advertisements appealing to members of the public or those who might know about the BDC glass project to assist in establishing whether they were acts of criminality, maladministration, violation of company procedure, breach of corporate governance practice, among others, but failed to extend some courtesy to those accused of wrong doing to question the accusers.
Matambo’s legal team contends that the conclusions of the committee were untested by scrutiny and serious cross examination from those accused.
Matambo’s lawyers intend to argue before the High Court that the report should be nullified because all those implicated or accused of wrong doing were denied an opportunity to refute the claims made against them.
While the allegations and the findings are not at issue, Matambo contends that he should have been accorded an opportunity to cross examine some of the witnesses who spoke of his role in the Fengyue glass Project.
Matambo’s legal team is relying on the High Court’s decision of 1993, when it nullified the report by Englishman Kgabo after its findings were challenged by Daniel Kwelagobe and the late Peter Mmusi.
However, unlike a Commission of Inquiry, a Select Committee of Parliament conducts its functions through the National Assembly’s (Powers and Privileges) Act.
The Act is silent on whether the conduct of a Select Committee should be done in public but states that witnesses are to be cross-examined before evidence is admitted.
Contacted for comment, Abram Kesupile, the Kanye South legislator who chaired the select committee on BDC, declined to be drawn into discussing the matter.
Kesupile would not explain why Matambo and a number of top BDC managers whom the committee had found to have breached their fiduciary duty were not given an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses who testified against them.
“I will not make any comment on this report or on any matter affecting this report until parliament has pronounced on it,” said Kesupile.