Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Millions worth of glass plant components stolen in Palapye

The worst fears of pessimists of the failed Palapye Glass Manufacturing Plant have now been confirmed with the latest information indicating that key components of the plant were stripped off and ferried beyond the borders of Botswana before the liquidator arrived on the scene.

The Board of Botswana Development Corporation took a decision to liquidate the plant after spending close to a billion Pula on the project.

In his affidavit, the Chairman of BDC Board, Blackie Marole questions the viability of the project, just going short of even impugning the ethical propriety of promoters behind a Chinese company, Fengyue that was BDC’s strategic partner.

The whereabouts of Fengyue managers are not known.
Before they deserted, they had asked BDC for a loan of close to P200 million.

This was despite the fact that they had themselves not honoured their side of the bargain, notwithstanding the fact that they were a controlling shareholder and also supposed technical experts.

Given the state of the collapse of the plant and how much it has cost, it is difficult to imagine how only two years ago government officials including President Ian Khama had descended on Palapye to sell the much vaunted project and promise people of the township that all we be done to produce glass at the plant.

So much money and too careers were also staked on the flagship project.

At one point the Minister of Finance, Ken Matambo sacked the Board of BDC because he felt they were standing on the way of the project.

The Board had asked management pointed questions surrounding the project.

Curiously Matambo had himself been Managing Director of BDC when the project was first hatched.
A parliamentary select committee investigating circumstances surrounding the plant found too many irregularities, including the fact that a loan offered by Standard Chartered Botswana had not been duly authorized, much less guaranteed.

Now everything around the plant has collapsed and many of the project’s most vehement defenders at BDC have since been sacked.

BDC itself has been weaned away from Matambo’s sphere of influence and transferred to the Ministry of Trade and investment.

When contacted, the Acting Managing Director said there was no BDC would know about the missing plant as the entire investment had since been handed over to the liquidator.

“I am not in a position to confirm or deny that plant could have been stolen. BDC does not have access to the factory as it is now under the management of the liquidator,” said Montle Phuthego.

Sunday Standard can however confirm that before the liquidator even arrived at the scene stripping of this expensive plant had long started and at one point police were even tipped of the fact that truckloads of the plant were crossing the border, by which time it was too late.


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