A Johannesburg-based lawyer representing Shanghai Fengyue company told Botswana Guardian this week that Finance Minister, Kenneth Matambo has to be investigated for flaunting corporate governance at Botswana Development Corporation (BDC).
Jack Hajibey criticised Botswana government for failing to notice the economic value of the Palapye Glass Project between Shanghai Fengyue and Fengyue Glass Manufacturing Company Botswana. The two are in a controversial joint venture in a hi-tech float glass-manufacturing outfit in Palapye at a cost exceeding P500 million.
“No body is worried about the project, which was supposed to have been completed in September and is 70 percent done. You people are concerned about P12.9 million that was credited into my account,” said Hajibey on Tuesday when Botswana Guardian reached him for comment over a mysterious accreditation to his Nedbank trust account.
He said the US$1.9 million was a refund for delayed payment and was immediately paid to sub contractors and other workers at Fengyue. Efforts to reach Nedbank proved futile. “This project was supposed to be in South Africa, but President (Festus) Mogae persuaded Chinese investors to open it in Botswana. He promised them all sort of things; free tax, funding.” said the attorney.
“Now Botswana politics is killing that project,” observed Hajibey, adding that Chinese investors did not gain in the project, which is currently under investigations. Hajibey and Chinese investors at Shanghai Fengyue refused to cooperate with Parliamentary Special Select Committee Inquiry on the glass project.
However, Criminal Investigations Department interrogated Hajibey in Johannesburg. “All corruption issue is rubbish. We have been investigated,” he charged. “There is no margin to steal P100 million. Why did BDC delay funding the project for 16 months?” he wondered. He accused BDC Board and Matambo for “imposing” unqualified candidate to lead BDC.
“She (BDC Managing Director, Maria Nthebolan) was imposed on BDC, she was imposed on us. Ask your finance minister, not us, he knows why he employed her,” said Hajibey. “From the Chinese side, not even a single P1 was taken by us,” he added. He could not account for a sum of US$1.5 million that was accredited to Shanghai Fengyue director, William Wu Mong Seng in Macau, China.
The project was expected to employ over 1000 when it was fully operational. “Material is lying there, rusting, you worry about unnecessary issues.”Both Nthebolan and Matambo were not available for comment.