The embattled Ramotswa/Tswana Steel and Iron Company is refusing to open its “questionable donations” register to Botswana Police Service officers who are investigating reports that some officers benefited from the company’s alleged slush fund.
Ramotswa Police Station Commander, Sarah Gabathuse, told The Sunday Standard this week that they are unable to continue with investigations into reports that two of their officers had, on separate occasions in 2005, received money from the management of Ramotswa Steel because management refused to give them a list of the recipients of their donations.
Ramotswa Steel, which is believed to have siphoned money out of Botswana through transfer pricing, flouted Botswana’s forex, company labour and financial regulations and made questionable donations to police officers, the area Member of Parliament Lesego Motsumi, labour officials, immigration and customs officials.
Ramotswa Steel is a subsidiary of the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (ZISCO), which has been under investigation by the Zimbabwean elite graft busters for embezzlement of funds. The funds were allegedly donated to Botswana government authorities and Zimbabwean high ranking authorities, among them cabinet ministers.
Gabathuse told The Sunday Standard that soon after reading a story about their officers having received some money from the company, they approached the management of Ramotswa Steel for a list of companies and people they had given donations to but the management refused to cooperate with the police.
“We have tried them on several occasions but in vain and we feel there is nothing we can do as we do not have the alleged list,” she said.
One of the officers at the station has, in the past, admitted that he had received money from the company which he said was money donated for their Christmas party. The officer was adamant that it was lawful for them to ask for donations for their Christmas party.
Another officer, who was on the same list, denied having received any money from the company though his name was listed as a recipient.
The officer said that he had only dealt with the company management on an official basis but had not received any money from them.
Beside the police officer who said he had received money from the company for their Christmas party, the Minister of Works and Transport and Member of Parliament for Ramotswa, Lesego Motsumi, who was also listed amongst the recipients, confirmed having received money from the company which she said she had received on behalf of her constituency.
Motsumi said she did not personally benefit from the donations.
She, however, denied having received an air ticket from the company and challenged the company to produce evidence on that. Unnamed members of Botswana’s Immigration and Customs department were also on the list of recipients. The management of Ramotswa Steel refused to return calls to The Sunday Standard.