Botswana awaits evidence in Fengyue Glass project

A Public Accounts Committee hearing underway PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
A Public Accounts Committee hearing underway PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

It has emerged that Botswana is still waiting for evidence from China regarding the doomed Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) multimillion-pula glass manufacturing project in Palapye.

Reading a response on behalf Attorney General Abraham Keetshabe, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Stephen Tiroyakgosi recently told Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that a request for mutual assistance was sent to China in February 2012 regarding the BDC-Fengyue Glass Botswana.  “We are still awaiting evidence,” Tiroyakgosi told members of the committee.  The DPP also said another request was sent to Germany and Denmark in 2013 for BDC and Can Manufacturers Botswana.

Evidence was long received and was sent to Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Tiroyakgosi said.  “The office of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime has not returned the file for assessment and prosecution,” he said.

Tiroyakgosi was reacting to committee members’ concerns over the conviction rate for high profile cases, which is low.  There are cases that were referred to the DPP more than five years ago that have not been taken to court for conviction. They cited examples of BDC and Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) alleged corruption and maladministration.

Tiroyakgosi stated that BDC and BMC dockets were returned to DCEC for further investigations. The committee requested the DPP to provide evidence as to how long they took before returning the dockets to DCEC.

“With regard to the BMC matter, I was informed that the then Director of Public Prosecutions Mr [Leonard] Sechele had declined to prosecute because he held the view that by Parliament assigning a Parliamentary Committee to investigate the matter, they have contaminated the case. And the case was returned to the DCEC. The current DPP is of the view that the case must be brought back for assessment and possible prosecution,” Tiroyakgosi said. 

In December 2011, Parliament appointed the Special Select Committee of Inquiry into the BDC Fengyue Glass Manufacturing (Botswana) Palapye Glass Project. The  committee was set up to investigate allegations of corruption and maladministration at a Palapye-based Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) multimillion-pula glass-manufacturing project.

It was appointed following a forensic audit that revealed discovery of hundreds of thousands of pula in the bank accounts of key BDC executives and employees that could not be accounted for. The committee delivered its report to the then Speaker of the National Assembly in October 2012.  While over 70% of the project capital has been expended, barely half the project works have been delivered, it emerged from the committee’s probe. It also emerged that Fengyue Glass Botswana, a Chinese company that BDC partnered with embellished its profile and had no track-record in any capital intensive project like the Palapye Glass project.  In December 2012, Parliament again appointed another Special Select Committee to investigate factors contributing to the declining performance of the meat industry, and to perform a forensic audit on BMC from 2006.

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