Minister of Trade and Industry Dorcus Makgatho-Malesu has said that those implicated in corruption allegations involving close to half a billion pula of pumped into the Botswana Development Corporation(BDC)’s Fengyue Palapye glass project will be taken to task.
Malesu made this revelation as an assurance to parliament that government was taking the findings of the select committee of Parliament on the BDC Fengyue Glass Palapye serious.
Abram Kesupile who chaired the committee told parliament that the probe by the committee revealed that the Palapye glass project involving millions of taxpayers’ monies was ‘premised on poor due diligence, doubtful technical project partner selection, a litany of project implementation violations, and doubtful and reckless project fund disbursement’.
The report on the probe at BDC has been adopted by parliament and will be passed to cabinet. The report is however silent on the large amount of money running into millions that was discovered in personal accounts of BDC executives.
“Let me state that Government is not sitting idle…DCEC is investigating this matter,” she told parliament.
She said that some of the investigations by officers of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s Leonard Sechele.
“Some of the files have been passed on to the DPP and we have been meeting with the BDC board,” said Malesu.
Malesu said this shortly before parliament voted to adopt the report.
The minister whose ministry now oversees BDC gave an assurance that the glass factory will go on as planned.
“We have just concluded a due diligence exercise,” said Malesu.
She said that government is determined to save the anticipated jobs that the factory will create and would as a result pump more money on the project. The minister did not reveal whether BDC has found new partners or disclose the additional amount that is to be spent on the glass project.
Despite the national importance of the issue, the debate of the report was marked by a handful attendance of cabinet members as well as non-attendance by a significant number of ruling party legislators.
Member of Parliament were unapologetic and called on minister Ken Matambo to step down as well as the reinstatement of ex ÔÇôBDC’s employee Rosemary Mogorosi who was fired for questioning the project.
Parliamentarians also called for a apology to the three board members Knightingale Kwele, Odirile Merafhe, Thuso Dikgaka.
There was also a unanimous charge by opposition legislators calling on minister of Finance and Development Planning Ken Matambo to resign.
Leading the crusade was Francistown South MP Wynter Mmolotsi who said that Matambo should not claim that he was misled but should take political responsibility and resign.
Joining the call a charged Dumelang Saleshando said that the finding were a testimony that Botswana is nolonger a society of merit. He said board members who were supposed to provide oversight were failing in their task. He said this is mainly because the BDC board and other boards are packed with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) loyalists.
He said both Matambo and President Ian Khama should take the blame
“The minister is part of the problem. The most senior leadership is sleeping on the job,”
“Honourable Matambo cannot be trusted with petty cash,” adding that Matambo should not be allowed to lead the ministry of Finance and Development because there is no assurance he can provide leadership.
The Gaborone Central MP called on President Khama to fire Matambo immediately.
“Khama should take a day off distributing blankets and provide some leadership,” said Saleshando
Meanwhile, Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Dikgakgamatso Seretse who appeared unimpressed with the tone of the debate told parliament that government does not tolerate corruption.
Seretse advised lawmakers not to persecute Matambo and past BDC chief executive Maria Ntebolan over unverified allegations.
He accused the opposition of taking advantage of the BDC mess for political gain.
“It would be unfair to say that government is not doing anything…I do appreciate that there is politics and there are gains to be made but this one area that requires a high level of responsibility.”