Joe Matome and Garvas Nchindo are next week Wednesday expected back in the dock in the high profile marathon criminal case in which they are facing 10 counts of corruption.
The case, which has now been running for over a year, was adjourned in March on a high note, after some high profile witnesses, amongst them former President Festus Mogae and former Minister of Local Government and Lands, Jacob Nkate, as well as several high ranking government officials gave evidence.
The issue was that a plot in Gaborone North was given to Debswana and not to its late Managing Director, Louis Nchindo.
Mogae said that he had always thought that Tourism Development Consortium was a Debswana initiative.
He said this when defence attorney, advocate Graig Webster, had said that the plot of land could have been given under other circumstances, such as where TDC was the late Nchindo’s business.
Mogae further explained that De Beers’ Nicky Oppenheimer was at one stage reluctant to support the project, saying that their core business was that of mining diamonds but that they, in the government, were keen to have the project done by Debswana because elsewhere, De Beers Anglo American had gone into such projects.
He gave the example of South Africa as a country where the mining giant had carried out such projects, stressing that the government was over the moon about the project and that it was always felt that the land was going to be used for a Debswana project.
Mogae said that nobody told the Cabinet that land had been allocated to Nchindo’s TDC and that even Nkate never told him that.
A former Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Gayland Komboni, also took the stand and told the Court that after the government had identified tourism as an engine for economic diversification, the late Nchindo authored a letter, which detailed how TDC was willing to invest P200 in the tourism sector and that the investment would create 3000 jobs .
After that, he also told the Court, Nchindo made an application for land to start the proposed project.
The former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Affairs, Akanyang Tombale, said that the late Nchindo had made proposals to his board to undertake a tourism development project to the tune of P631 million but that he never declared any personal interest in the development of the project.
He further said that board members in such matters are required to declare interests by making a list of their assets every year to avoid conflict of interest and that in no board meetings that he had attended with Nchindo were interests in TDC declared by Nchindo or were such interests declared to the former Minister of Water Affairs and Energy, Boometswe Mokguthu.
Mokgothu is still to give evidence in the case and could possibly be the next witness.
In a related matter, arguments on the state’s application seeking a restraining order on the land surrounding the criminal case are to be heard this month.
The case is before Lobatse High Court judge, Lashkavinder Walia.