Below we reproduce word for word the unedited transcript of an interview conducted by DCEC Director Tymon Katlholo on Louis Nchindo.
The interview was conducted on the 3rd December 2007.
Tourism Development Consortium
Tymon Katlholo: When did you join Debswana?
Louis Goodwill Nchindo: I joined Anglo American in 1974 as Managing Director and left December 2004.
TM: Louis identified the initials in the contract document. Contract dated 17th April 2002, which he confirmed.
LGN: I left Debswana end of August 2004
TM: Would you explain your responsibilities?
LGN: Overall responsibility of running Debswana on behalf of the board, the board comprising of six members from the government and the other six from De-Beers.
TM: The story of Tourism Development Consortium started on the 5th September 1997. Explain what it was all about?
LGN: I had a dream of developing tourism in the country by setting the hotels in Gaborone, Maun and Kasane. I was offered a piece of land in Block 8, CBD which I turned down, eventually. I was offered land at Block 10.
TM: This dream was it in your official capacity as the Managing Direcor of Debswana?
LGN: It was in my personal capacity. I tried to pursue Debswana to join me to develop hotels in Gaborone, Maun, Kasane and Gaborone Hotel would be in my land.
TM: Did Tourism Development Consortium on the 5th September 1997 exist as a company?
LGN: It was a concept.
TM: I draw you attention to the letter dated 5th September 1997, all ideas in this letter were yours. Shown the letter confirms it and acknowledges its contents.
LGN: I had a dream for tourism development in Botswana and still cherish that dream. I had started to apply for land prior to 1997
(he produced a written note to illustrate his point note dated 27/06/1996.)
I had applied for the piece of land in Mogoditshane and lost the tender. I was offered in Block 8 and CBD which I turned down. Eventually I was offered land in Block 10 which I accepted. Tourism Development Consortium was his personal concept which he tried to sell to Debswana and any other person who would be interested to venture into tourism.
TM: It is true, you came with the idea and sold it to the gov’t and Debswana in the process you did not specify your personal ideas and your dream?
LGN: Yes the ideas were mine and not for Debswana I used addresses where I worked. Incorporated meant it would be incorporated. And Mookodi did a lot of work for me.
-Hodes: Referred TM second page of the letter dated 4th September 1997, which Mr Katlholo read and asked the rationale behind it.
LGN: It explains the dream and the letter was asking for support not application for the land.
TM: Are you aware of presentations made to H.E, Vice President and Cabinet?
LGN: I am aware.
TM: Were you present during the presentations?
LGN: No, I was not present when the presentations were made. I had assembled a team, and once they had the mandate they had the authority to do whatever was necessary, without seeking my authority.
TM: Did you authorize the presentations?
LGN: They didn’t have to ask for authority from me and presentations statement as you read it appears to be correct and consistent with the concept that I had initiated.
TM: Read the presentation documentation to Mr. Nchindo.
LGN: Presentation contents about T.D.C are correct.
TM: The objectives and components project as presented, are they correct?
LGN: All are correct.
TM: What has been done at that time, identify suitable sites in Gaborone, Maun, Kasane given these presentations, do you still maintain that it was your land?
LGN: I gave the concept to Debswana and government.
TM: Was it sold, where did you encounter problems?
LGN: It died before I left Debswana.
TM: Were you allocated land on 21/12/2000 and how do we distinguish your ambition and that of the government?
LGN: I wanted the board to embrace tourism concept and I was not actively involved because I wanted Debswana to used my land.
TM: Is it true, you came with the idea, and sold it to government and Debswana in the process you did not specify your personal idea and your dream.
LGN: I didn’t think of Tourism Development Consortium as the Managing Director of Debswana but in my personal capacity. You can ask the chairman.
-Hodes asked TM to read a hand note written by Nchindo to Nasha dated 17/06/06
TM: After having read the note he asked what is the story about Block 8?
LGN: This is the plot I was offered and rejected
TM: Your personal dream becoming intertwined in Debswana and the government in all concepts. What is your thing?
LGN: Land was my thing and needed partners preferably Debswana and the government
TM: What are the circumstances leading to the registration of Tourism Development Consortium?
LGN: T.D.C was a concept which I later registered and Debswana employees did the registration on my behalf
TM: Asking Debswana employees to register company in your behalf, was it in compliance with good governance laid down standards?
LGN: What standards? There were no standards which I was aware of and it was not unusual to register the company in the name of the two Debswana employees because they were just subscribers.
TM: Is there any reason why Debswana had to pay for the feasibility studies and surveys of the land?
LGN: Debswana paid for the plot survey because I had provided the concept.
TM: When did Debswana seize Tourism Development Consortium?
LGN: Tymon listen if I had known that one day I will be persecuted I would not have come up with the concept
TM: In September 1997, you sold the idea to the shareholders, was budget approved, under the banner of what?
LGN: I sold the concept to Debswana and other partners because I had no money and I was not a civil servant but working on five year contract.
TM: Your relationship with Debswana is blurred
LGN: It is so.
TM: I put it to you that Tourism Development Consortium was a Debswana project and you high-jacked it.
LGN: How can I highjack my own invention or concept. You can ask the chairman about Plot 55720.
TM: When did you first apply for plot 55720?
LGN: In 1996. The plot is mine if the idea had passed Debswana was going to build on my plot. It would be a partnership.
TM: Letter of Matome dated 27th July 2000, was shown and read to Nchindo to respond
LGN: This letter was written by Matome not Nchindo
TM: Presentations talk about land in Kasane.
LGN: Debswana had applied for land in Kasane and Mrs. Seretse said she cannot give me land in Kasane inside the National Park.
TM: According to your idea if you had sold it, was it going to be partnership between Debswana and yourself?
LGN: The partnership was going to be in Gaborone Plot 3084.
TM: Now let talk about Plot 3084
LGN: If Debswana disposes of property, it-gets the higher and lower values and then divided by two there-by giving the evaluation of property. This one is very simple. Walters had suggested an open tender. I was upset to a point where I decided to double the figure. I had no knowledge about who tendered or about any letter written in Matome’s computer.
TM: Were you aware that there was a higher bidder than yourself?
LGN: I am not aware of any higher bidder than myself
Personal Loan Account
TM: Would you give an explanation about the operation of the loan account?
LGN: Everybody in Debswana had the loan account.
TM: Who authorized it?
LGN: The chairman and the financial controller. And the financial controller would pay my bills and charge the account which I will pay and I have paid everything that was due to Debswana.
TM: How would the chairman and financial controller authorize it?
LGN: Because I was away not that I did not have money. Ask the chairman he knows about it.
TM: Who authorized it?
LGN: Financial Controller.
TM: Who in particular?
LGN: I don’t know they were many. Walters was probably one of them.
TM: Did the chairman know bout it and did the board authorize it?
LGN: The Chairman and the board were aware it was the practice. I found it as a practice. It was a historical thing found when I joined Anglo American in 1994, it was there.
TM: Any restrictions on loan account?
LGN: There were no rules for using the account except that it had to be done within reason and paid. I am aware of all the transactions in the account. They were normal and I paid them all.
survey of plot 55270
Car clearance customs duty
Furniture and these were paid on my behalf by Debswana when I was abroad on official business doing big things for Debswana.
Diamond for Development
TM: Diamonds for Development
LGN: Yes, it was a concept initiated to counter companies’ campaign that threatened our diamonds, the so-called blood-diamonds.
TM: Was the budget approved for this project?
LGN: The budget was approved and Sesinyi will explain. I did not know the exact amount approved but there was approved budget and once that was done the expenditure was between our (PRO) Jacob Sesinyi and Financial controller.
TM: In this budget, there is an indication that you’ve spent on Jefferson’s visit and his family in Botswana?
LGN: I am aware he came to Kasane because the President Rre Mogae was there, they had a meeting otherwise other expenditures on Jefferson Mr. Sesinyi (PRO) can explain. He arranged everything, and he knew about Jefferson’s visit.
TM: Any other places he visited”
LGN: I came with Jefferson from Cape Town, he had arrived there and I brought him using Anglo plane.
TM: Who paid the trip?
LGN: The mine should have paid
TM: Jeff Hogg . . . involvedment in your work
LGN: He did my work and I gave him P50 000 for a work well done, not only him has done the work for me, but other Debswana employees as well as did the work for me and I paid them. And they did that after working hours.
Diamond for development
TM: Who engaged Hill and Knowlton in this project?
LGN: It must have been engaged by the Public Relations Officer Sesinyi.
TM: What about the daughter being employed by the same company?
LGN: It was a coincidence that my daughter was working there at the time that the company was engaged to do public relations. . . She found herself the job and I was not involved in any way.
TM: And Chartering Debswana Plane to deliver the keys?
LGN: Yes my house keys were collected and dropped in Kasane. I had phoned the pilot who was coming from Johannesburg to Orapa that I had forgotten my house keys. He offered to pick them up and drop them in Kasane when they proceeded to Orapa. I did not instruct any body to do that.
TM: Who paid?
LGN: The Company must have paid.
TM: Resolution to procure registration of Tourism Development Consortium
LGN: There was an error by my lawyers on the dates
TM: The time is 1427 hours we now close the interview. You may decide to reduce the interview notes in statement form and sign it and bring it to us.
– Hodes lawyer for Nchindo has proposed that the interview transcript be prepared for them and forwarded to Parks Tafa for confirmation and signing by Rre Nchindo. This proposal was considered suitable and it will be adhered to.
Transcript prepared jointly by T.M. Katlholo, B.O. Moseki and V. Mabina