Former President Festus Mogae’s recent appointment as a new member of board of directors of Shrenuj International Diamond-jewellery has raised mixed feelings in the country.
Mogae says there is no conflict of interest in him being the director in an Indian company and added that it does not contravene any Act as he is a private citizen who is unemployed. He revealed that in future he will get remuneration, called directors fees, but not a salary. He stated that he is not a director in Shrenuj subsidy in Botswana but in India.
“Our aspiration as Batswana is to participate in many sectors of the economy and Batswana should learn from other leading diamond economies,” said Mogae.
He added that he recruited a lot of companies to Botswana during his term as president many of whom now have branches worldwide. Furthermore, Mogae highlighted that about 30 diamond companies applied to trade in Botswana and 16 of them have been licensed.
“We should complete our diamond law in order to compete with other leading nations in the world. There are no shady dealings behind this and why should I do bad after excelling in the development of my country,” Mogae explained.
He highlighted that Shrenuj is a private company, which was established by a 1957 Indian company Act.
“I am not standing against the interests of Batswana and I have taken Botswana to be listed amongst the best countries in Africa.”
Taolo Lucas, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) publicity secretary said that the party is aware of Mogae’s directorship in a diamond company and added that they do not have sufficient information about the conditions of the directorship.
“We hope that the directorship does not contravene the conditions of the pensions for former presidents,” said Lucas, adding that they hope that Mogae’s directorship at Shrenuj Diamond Company was not attained on the basis of privileged information that Mogae had by virtue of his position as a president and now as former president. He added that it is a matter that the BCP will look deeply into.
“Suspicions may be raised over his association with a diamond company and we have observed that he is doing business with one of the leading chain stores in the country,” he said.
Botswana National Front (BNF) president, Duma Boko, said if Mogae is getting remuneration from the diamond company, there should be an audit on his monthly income as a former president.
“He should not compromise the interest of the country. He is well taken care of by the government and he must be involved in charitable and community work,” said Boko.
Boko labeled Mogae as a marketable person┬áwho a lot of companies want to use and added that it affects the dignity of an ex-president. He said Mogae’s association with a diamond company is over bold.