Reunion of the Originals
The fairy tale that is Botswana’s diamond story started with a pack of prospectors that traversed the rough terrain of the Boteti area, with nothing more than the most rudimentary tools at their disposal.
Orapa was nothing more than a single cattle post for a Basarwa family while the nearby Letlhakane was not much bigger. Anglo American’s Jim Gibson, Manfred Marx the Australian and Dr Norman Lock led a team that would brave the most harsh of conditions to find the magic stones that decades later remain the corner stone of this country’s economy, contributing 60 percent to the Gross Domestic Product annually.
Flanked by locals, Eleven Malema who carried a hand compass and did the navigation, as well as Gabosekegwe Nthanogeng, Kgosiemang Diepo and a few others, they found the stones.
The old timers recall how hard they worked and the very low pay, which casts a shadow over their experiences.
Last weekend, Debswana performed its last lap of its 45th anniversary celebrations by first hosting a diamond pipeline seminar at Gaborone Sun Hotel and Conferences on Friday 7th November, which was graced by the original prospectors as well as other stakeholders in the industry, among them a former Minister of Mines and Natural Resources, Dr Gaositwe Chiepe.
A gala dinner followed in the in evening at Gaborone International Conference Centre (GICC) on the same day. On the morning of the 8th, the commemorations where the prospectors and media and other invited guests were airlifted to the original mining town of Orapa, for a brief ceremony concluded by an exhibition diamond business enterprises.
Sitting, eating, drinking and making merry together, forgetting the racially charged undertones of the past, there was a sense of nostalgia that could bring tears to the eyes, as Jim Gibson related to the discovery of diamonds in Botswana.
Dr Norman Lock found a Motswana lass and married her; none other than human rights activist Maleta Mogwe-Lock, the daughter of former Cabinet minister Archibald Mogwe.
Fast forward forty five years and Botswana remains a top global producer in terms of both volumes and value.
The opening of Jwaneng Mine in 1980 catapulted Botswana to the status of top producer, a whole thirteen years after the first fruitful prospecting was carried out.
After many years of mining, the key word is now beneficiation. When it comes to the geographical location of cutting and polishing, the Diamond Insight Report 2014 states that the move towards low-cost centres in India and the Far East is likely to have reached its peak. Over recent years, producing countries such as Botswana, South Africa and Namibia have been striving for increased domestic beneficiation, leading to some cutting and polishing jobs migrating to those countries.
Diamonds are critical to the economies of some producing nations. In Botswana, for example, diamonds represent more than one quarter of GDP and over three-quarters of overall exports whereas in Namibia they represent eight per cent of GDP and almost 20 per cent of exports.
However, diamond mining in itself only creates a limited number of jobs (as is also the case with other types of mining) since it is capital-intensive rather than labour-intensive. Botswana’s budding cutting and polishing industry employs over 3750 people locally.
A snapshot of the diamond industry now shows that Global diamond jewellery sales were an estimated US$79 billion in 2013, growing at over three per cent in nominal value in 2013 in USD terms vs 2012, ahead of the compounded annual rate of growth experienced between 2008 and 2012.
China continues to be the main growth engine of diamond jewellery demand, but the US also performed particularly well in 2013. In terms of polished diamonds contained in diamond jewellery at cutting centre wholesale value, demand increased by over three per cent from 2012 to 2013, to reach approximately US$25 billion.
The two biggest markets, the United States and China, both grew by more than the global average, with sales of polished diamonds increasing 7 per cent in the US and 14 per cent in China, measured in USD terms. In contrast, both India and Japan saw sales fall (by six per cent in Japan and 10 per cent in India, measure.
Global rough diamond sales by producers increased approximately five per cent from 2012 to 2013, to reach a total of just under US$18 billion. De Beers, Botswana Government’s equal partner Debswana, remained the largest supplier with roughly 33 per cent of overall sales measured by value (the same share as in 2012), followed by ALROSA with 25 per cent of sales (vs 23 per cent the year before).
Other primary suppliers included SODIAM (Angola) with an estimated six per cent share, Rio Tinto with a five per cent share and Dominion Diamond Corporation and the Zimbabwe alluvial producers with about four per cent each, all in approximate USD value terms. A variety of rough diamond sales channels are used by primary suppliers. De Beers uses multi-year contracts with more than 80 term contract clients – Sightholders – to sell most of its production.
De Beers has also used sophisticated online auctions since 2008 to sell a proportion of the Group’s production. In recent years, ALROSA has established three-year supply agreements with a selection of customers and supplements these saleswith one-time sales as well as competitive bidding. However, some producers, such as Gem Diamonds and Petra Diamonds, use an auction-only platform.
THE DIAMOND JOURNEY
1954 – 1966 “The lean and mean period” – this includes De Beers (Kimberlitic Searches) preparation for establishing prospecting units in the then Bechuanaland, establishing its base in Lobatse and slowly building up resources and capability. This was a lean and mean period for diamonds; the only two kimberlites, discovered near Mochudi, turned out to be non-diamondiferous.
1967 – 1972 “The wonderful discovery era”, a period that is in stark contrast to the previous one. Over 50 Kimberlites, mostly diamondiferous, were discovered by De Beers Prospecting, during this five year period, including Orapa A/K1, the second largest mined kimberlite in the world (after the Madui pipe at the Williamson Mine in Tanzania) and also 2125 D/K1 and D/K2, later to become the Debswana Letlhakane Mine and 2424D/K2 at Jwaneng, later to become Jwaneng Mine.
1971 – 1982 This was “The decade of big mine commissioning and openings” in Botswana which firmly placed Botswana on the world diamond scene, later to become the largest diamond producer by value.
1980 – 2011 “Prospects re-visited”. Over the last 30 years, original De Beers kimberlite discoveries in the 1960’s and 1970’s, which were abandoned at the time for being uneconomic, have been re-visited by others, using more advanced evaluation technology now available, and have shown the kimberlites to be now economic. Such examples are kimberlite pipes B/K 11 and A/K6 in the Orapa Kimberlite field, discovered by De Beers in 1967 and 1970 respectively, and which have now been revisited by Firestone Diamonds in 2008 and Boteti Mining in 2009, and both are now diamond mines.
2003 – 2011 “The smaller mines period”. Damtshaa Mine was opened in 2003, Lerala Mine in 2008 and both B/K11 and A/K 6 (Karowe) Mines in 2011.
2006 – 2011 “The diamond valuation and trading consolidation period”. It saw the establishment of the Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB) in 2006, which replaced the former Botswana Diamond Valuing Company (BDVC), the selection of Botswana’s first diamond Sightholders, then 16 in number. In 2007 and the construction of the DTCB Head Quarters in 2008, the largest rough diamond sorting and valuation facility in the world.
In 2011, for the first time, it was also agreed that the Botswana Government would independently sell 10 percent of the Debswana run-of-mine production increasing by 1 percent each year to 15 percent in 2016. De Beers also agreed to relocate Diamond Trading Company International (DTCI) from London to Gaborone by the end of 2013.
As a result, the Diamond Technology Park was opened in 2008 along with the Botswana Government’s Diamond Hub. In 2011, Botswana became a full member of the International Diamond Manufacturing Association and hosted its annual conference in Gaborone. In 2008, the Botswana Government clustered a number of major development projects into six hubs to attract internal and external investment. A Diamond Hub was established to facilitate beneficiation and promote Botswana as one of the world’s major diamond trading centres. The following additional initiatives have also been supported by Government:-
The construction of a new Debswana Corporate Centre in 2007 ; the formation of the Botswana Diamond Manufacturer’s Association in 2007; The construction Of a Diamond District incorporating a Diamond Technology Park in 2008; The 2008 construction of a Diamond Trading Company Botswana sort house, the largest sorting and valuation facility in the world; A strategy for the development of diamond cutting, polishing and jewellery making skills, launched in 2009; The construction of a Secure Transfer Facility (STF) at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in 2010; The 2011 agreement By DTC International to move all of its sales and other operations to Botswana before the end of 2013; The formation In early 2012 of The De Beers Aggregation Company in Botswana which will undertake the aggregation of all De Beers worldwide diamond production in Botswana for the first time; The formation Of Botswana’s First state diamond trading company, the “Okavango Diamond Company”, in 2012, which would go on to sell diamonds independently from DTCB, commencing with 10 percent of the run of Debswana’s total annual production.
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DCEC granted warrant to arrest Khama twins
The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) has been granted permission to apprehend the former Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, and his twin brother Anthony Khama.
Information gathered by this publication suggests that the DCEC is actively searching for the Khama brothers, this is in connection with events that transpired whilst Tshekedi was Minister of Environment. The duo is currently in exile in South Africa together with their elder brother, and former President Lt Gen Ian Khama.
Approximately two weeks ago, the corruption-busting agency discreetly filed for an arrest warrant that was approved by the Broadhurst Magistrate Court for the two to be taken into custody, according to a highly placed source within the government enclave.
DCEC is also said to have filed an affidavit signed by a high-ranking officer known to this publication. Reports indicate that after being presented with details of the case, the Broadhurst magistrate issued the agency an arrest warrant.
It is also believed that the agency has been conducting extensive investigations into the supposed suspects for quite some time. Furthermore, Weekend Post has it on good word that the DCEC has been looking for methods to summon the two for questioning but has been unsuccessful.
According to unconfirmed reports, DCEC met with attorney Victor Ramalepa, who refused to accept the summons, saying that he is not their attorney. Furthermore, it is believed that DCEC has enlisted the assistance of the Botswana Police Service (BPS) in flagging the suspects’ names in the International Criminal Police Organisation INTERPOL.
Responding to WeekendPost enquiries, DCEC spokesperson Lentswe Motshoganetsi said, “I am not in good position to confirm or deny the allegation,” adding that such allegations may fall within the operational purview of the DCEC.
When contacted for comment, Ramalepa briefly stated that he is unaware of the purported arrest warrant. “I know nothing about the warrant and I haven’t been served with anything,” he said.
Meanwhile, former president Lt Gen Ian Khama recently issued a statement stating that DIS is intensifying the harassment and intimidation of him, family, friends and office employees.
“It is reprehensible for state officials and agencies to abuse government resources to terrorise their own citizens for personal gain,” said the former president in a statement.
He also stated that his brother TK’s staff and security were ordered to falsely implicate him. “Their desperate tactics will never work, it only serves to motivate me more to pursue regime change and free Botswana from tyranny,” he said
This comes after the corruption busting agency wants to interview the alleged suspects as they are still hiding in South Africa since last year.
Despite the hostility between government and Khama family going unabated, last month, Masisi extended an olive branch to Khama in political rally, indicating that he hopes the two of them settle their differences, of which the former responded by welcoming the gesture.
Khama further said his brother, Tshekedi, will facilitate the reconciliation of his behalf. Many have indicated that Masisi did not say what he said in good faith, and was only scoring political brownies since he was in Khama’s territory in Shoshong.
DCEC’s Tshepo Pilane still has his mojo
Tshepo Pilane silenced his critics after being named the head of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) in May of last year and served his opponents humble pie. Many believed he would only last for a month, but almost a year later, he is still standing.
Pilane, a trained soldier whose appointment surprised both the general public and some officers within the DCEC walls, has never glanced back in his duty to steer the DCEC ship forward.
It is alleged that immediately after his appointment the man embarked on a nation-wide trip touring the DCEC offices across the country in order to confirm and reaffirm the DCEC’s mandate. Sources from inside the DCEC claim that Pilane won the hearts of many DCEC employees due to his humility and plain message; “people at the top of the DCEC will come and go but the mandate of the DCEC remains relevant and unchanged.”
Pilane was appointed the Acting DCEC Director General at a time when the organisation was undergoing turbulence through court proceedings in which the suspended Director General Tymon Katlholo had interdicted the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) from accessing the DCEC premises. At the time, the DIS had raided the DCEC offices in the absence of Katlholo claiming to be looking for high profile corruption cases allegedly held by Katlholo.
At the time Pilane was Head of the DCEC Intelligence Division holding the position of Senior Assistant Director General reporting directly to the Deputy Director General Operations Ms Priscilla Israel. Contrary to his detractors, Pilane who is a reserved and humble person by nature won the support and backing of many DCEC officers due to his unassuming nature.
In a recent questionnaire sent to the DCEC regarding Pilane’s term in office, the DCEC was resolute on its commitment towards the fight against corruption. When quizzed on allegations of rife corruption since he took over, Pilane through his Public Relations (PR) office stated that the corruption landscape in Botswana remains unchanged as the DCEC continues to receive reports on allegations of corruption with sectors such as procurement (tenders and supplies), Transport (licensing and certificates), and land (dubious allocation and collusion) still leading issues reported. This trend has been consistence in the DCEC database for more than 10 years.
When further quizzed on accusations that suggest that due to the infighting at the agency, particularly at the top management, Investigations of cases has dropped significantly the DCEC claimed ignorance to the matter, stating that they are not aware of any “infights” at the DCEC “at the top management”, further stating that, investigations of cases has increased significantly, contrary to the allegations raised. “The DCEC is currently seeking new ways of expediting the investigations in order to fast track its enforcement role,” said the DCEC Head of Public Relations Lentswe Motshoganetsi. He further stated that the DCEC is in pursuit of high profile cases involving money and assets valued over P900 million. Three companies are involved in the scandal and two cases have already been committed to court while on one, investigations are about to be completed.
When WeekendPost inquired about Pilane’s roadmap, the DCEC stated that in the past, anti-corruption interventions were reactive, particularly in dealing with national projects that involve large sums of money. It was further started that in most instances investigating such matters takes a long time and in most instances, the money looted form Government in never recovered. As a result, the DCEC has taken a deliberate stance to attach its officers from the Corruption Prevention Division to be part of the implementation of these projects before, during, and after implementation.
The DCEC cited the Economic Stimulus Programme which, although meant to grow the economy and uplift Batswana from poverty, yielded incidents of corruption and poor workmanship. To date, the DCEC is still grappling with cases as some projects were not done, or were completed with defects beyond repair. Currently the DCEC is involved at the Ministry of Education conducting project risk management in the Multiple Path Ways Program at Moeng College and Maun Senior School. This intervention will spread to other sectors of the economy as part of the DCEC’s corruption prevention strategy.
Of recent, the DCEC has been in the media for all the wrong reasons following leakage of high profile cases and allegations claiming that the executive management is at war with each other more particularly with some within the agency harbouring ambitions to dethrone Pilane from the Directorship.
Although the infighting was denied by Pilane’s Office, he acknowledged that leakage of information is a problem across Government and stated that it is a pain at the DCEC. He however stated that Staff has been cautioned against leakage of investigation information and that they have roped in the Botswana Police to assist in investigating incidents of leakage. He further stated that they have increased continuous vetting and lifestyle audits for DCEC employees in order to enforce discipline.
Pilane’s term comes to an end in May 2023 after serving the DCEC for a year on acting basis. It will be in the public interest to see who will be given the baton to continue the anti-corruption journey if Pilane’s contract is not renewed. The DCEC has seen arrival and departure of Director Generals having alternated the top seat five times in less than seven years.
Botswana firms ICC support amid arrest warrant for Russian President
The Parliament is set to discuss proposed amendments to the laws related to the International Court Court (ICC). This development coincides with reports that the ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for his alleged role in the conflict in Ukraine.
It is not clear if this is a coincidence. For the fourth time, last year Botswana voted against Russia during the UN General Assembly’s condemnation of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
The country’s continued support for the ICC is expected to irk other African countries that are still questioning the credibility of the ICC and those have also sworn alligence to Russia.
It has been reported that the Minister of Justice, Ronald Shamukuni, is expected to table the Bill regarding the amendments to the laws concerning the ICC in the Parliament soon.
The Bill seeks to criminalize various international crimes, including genocide, war crimes, and aggression. It also proposes to repeal and replace the 2017 Rome Statute of the ICC with amendments.
The latest Government Gazette indicated that the 2017 Act has some legal and constitutional implications. The proposed amendments seek to address these issues.Therefore, the Bill seeks to replace the 2017 Act with a new statute that will retain some of the provisions that do not conflict with Botswana’s Constitution.
The Bill aims to ensure that the obligations of Botswana as a State Party to the Rome Statute of the ICC do not conflict with the country’s Constitution.
The proposed Act will include addition of the crime of aggression which was not there in the 2017 Act. The proposed Act will remove clauses that conflict with Botswana’s Constitution such as article 17 of the Rome Statute of the ICC which provides that official capacity as Head of State shall in no case exempt a person from criminal responsibility under the ICC Statute.
The import of this provision (which the new law seeks to repeal) is that Botswana Courts will be constrained by section 41 of the Constitution to try a sitting President but the International Criminal Court will not be so constrained.
The proposed Act will also result in the amendment to the extradition Act which will provide for instances where Botswana is unable to extradite, for the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to instead prosecute on behalf of the foreign country (ICC) where it is determined that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute and sharing of suspected proceeds of crime and confiscated property with other countries.
“In this regard, the amendment to the Mutual Assistant in Criminal Matters Act empowers the DPP to enter into agreements for the reciprocal sharing of with a competent authority in a foreign country,” reads the note in part.
The Bill also includes a clause dealing with conspiracy which provides that a person who conspires in Botswana to commit an offence, in or outside the territory of Botswana, or who conspires outside Botswana to commit an offence in Botswana commits an offence and is liable to the same penalty as the penalty for the actual offence.
Other provisions of the Bill include those relating to superior orders not being a defence as well as the responsibilities of commanders and other supervisors. Furthermore, the Bill deals with issues such as jurisdiction which allows for proceedings to be instituted against a person under certain circumstances, where an act of constituting an offence under the Bill is committed by any person outside the territory of Botswana.
The Bill also provides that the limitations on certain criminal offences will not be applicable to the offences under the Bill. This means that the Prescriptions Act and other statutory limitations will not be applicable to the offences under the Bill. Other provisions of the Bill include the establishment of regulations and the powers of the Minister to make amendments to laws.
The latest developments involving the ICC have raised concerns about Botswana’s continued support for the court. Some of the countries that are critical of the court include Uganda and Kenya. They believe that the court only targets African countries for its alleged involvement in war crimes. In 2016, South Africa decided to withdraw from the ICC. South Africa was the second African nation to withdraw from the court after Burundi.
The decision by South Africa followed a controversy in 2015 when Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir was invited to the country despite an ICC warrant for his arrest. Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan President, at that time commended South Africa for its decision to withdraw from the court.