BCL Liquidator, Nigel Dixon-Warren says that creditors owed money by BCL are most unlikely to be paid their dues for a longer period of time if they will be paid at all.
Responding to a question asked by Councillor Moses Serite at the SPEDU Stakeholder engagement meeting on Monday, the BCL Liquidator noted that payment of creditors can only be made once the operations have been bought, but even then it will still take a considerable amount of time as there are operation costs involved. Serite had wanted to know when will former BCL employees be paid their terminal benefits as well as when will creditors’ payment be settled.
“Creditors are not going to be paid for a very long time if at all they will be paid,” said Dixon Warren. As for terminal benefits he said all terminal benefits have been paid, explaining that Government purchased the cost of former employees’ terminal benefits from its own accounts and it has since submitted a claim against BCL to recoup the money. This means that the Government of Botswana is one of the many creditors owed by BCL who will have to wait for much longer to be paid their dues.
The Liquidator who recently resigned from KPMG to focus on winding up BCL advanced that BCL mine should have long been put on Care and Maintenance a long time ago as it was “mining blind” without a proper mining plan which led to serious operational challenges. “BCL should have long been restructured as it was inefficient and it had serious safety problems,” he said.
In the Report of the Provisional Liquidator released last year in October, Dixon-Warren stated that the mine failed because it was unable to pay its debts with the main identified reasons for the company’s insolvency being very poor and inadequate governance and management. He reported that the BCL Board exercised poor governance over strategic direction and executive management “coupled with a weak, incompetent and inexperienced management team that was unable to adapt to changing market circumstances.”
A further cause of failure was the pursuit of the Polaris II Strategy considering the technical and financial capability within the BCL Group, Dixon-Warren had reported, explaining further that “many if not all of the investment decisions made under this strategy were of doubtful financial benefit to BCL and were questionable.”
The Liquidator noted in his report that BCL liquidation is the largest in Botswana’s history and that the BCL Group was Botswana’s second largest “private sector” employer after Debswana Diamond Company. On Monday, Dixon-Warren revealed that because BCL is a “different animal” that requires a lot of money to buy and operate, many potential investors have come and go unable to make a practical offer.
He stated that todate, 180 interested parties have registered their interest but no offer had been made. He took the opportunity to clarify issues surrounding the Dubai based investor whose announcement that it was doing due diligence on BCL had brought a little flicker of hope that finally the mine will be purchased and be reopened. Emirates Investment House, a consortium of United Arab Emirates (UAE) businessmen from Dubai were expected to pump billions of Pula into BCL but the deal did not fall through.
“The reality is that to buy and re-open BCL will need approximately 5 billion pula and any interested party should be able to demonstrate from the onset that they have or they have access to that amount of money,” said Dixon-Warren. He explained that when the company showed interest, he conducted his own investigation on the company and his finding indicated that the investor has no financial capacity to operate BCL. He said that he made his view known but was advised to continue the process with the company and allow them time to conduct due diligence on the operation, wasting time and money. “We have wasted a lot of public money on the process,” he said.
“I do not want BCL to be run by an inexperienced investor because BCL is fundamentally a different animal. This is a base metal operation and people make it as though I am sitting on a diamond mine,” said the Liquidator. However, he has revealed that currently they are two interested parties and that in due course, he will advertise an Expression of Interest (EOI) for interested parties to submit their proposals demonstrating their capability to purchase and operate BCL mine again.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.