Masire's company under the hammer

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Property belonging to GM Five, a company owned by former president Sir Ketumile Masire has been placed under the hammer. The National Development Bank (NDB) last week placed an advertisement in the local newspapers, stating "an intention to auction property at GM Five Pty (Ltd)".

The property that will be auctioned includes 2000 head of cattle from Chobokwane farms: Farm No. 9, Farm No. 8, Farm No. 2Mk comprising of 5s and 5n, Farm No.7n, Farm No. 4mk, and Farm No. 6.

The public auction is scheduled for March 6. An officer at NDB confirmed yesterday that they are on schedule unless changes occur during the course of the week.

In addition to the 2000 herd of cattle, is a Mercy Ferguson tractor 265.   Registration fee for bidders has been set at a refundable P500. Attempts to get a comment from Sir Ketumile Masire did not bear fruit yesterday as he was said to be out of his office attending a family meeting in Kanye. Attempts to reach him on his mobile phones were also futile as one was off air whilst the other rang unanswered.

GM Five and Masire recently made newspaper headlines after disclosure that DeBeers availed funds to the former president to keep the company operational. DeBeers have comfirmed giving a P4 million loan to the former president, but said in a later statement to Mmegi Business  that   that they do not regret it.

Masire also confirmed the DeBeers funding through a statement he issued towards end of January but denied that it compromised the public interest.

"I wish to take this opportunity to reassure Batswana that the modest support that was extended to my farming business by De Beers associates 25 years ago, in the form of helping me recruit a manager for my farm in Ghanzi, did not in any way materially compromise Government's subsequent bilateral dealings with the Company.

In this respect I have in my memoirs already attempted to place on record my own experience and perceptions about the said dealings in some detail," he said.

He added that: "I believe these reflections go some way toward documenting the rational for the policies we have pursued in seeking to maximise the benefits of developing our mineral sector, including reconciling our different interests that have existed between us and De Beers in the past, as well as the collective safeguards which were put in place by government as a whole to safeguard the national interest from the possibility of any arising potential for conflict of interest".

He said that when he became president in 1980 he discovered that he ceased to have control over his own time and thus could no longer actively attend to his farming interests and he welcomed an offer by De Beers to assist him in recruiting a manager for the farm that he was then struggling to maintain in Gantsi.

"A loan programme was thus put in place to finance the said individual's employment," he said. However he said that, withthe benefit of hindsight, he regretted the arrangement

Former presidents are entitled to an office, salary, two government vehicles, secretary, entertainment allowance, maid allowance and garden boy among other benefits.

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