Botswana: Ex President faces embarrassment

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Former Botswana leader, Sir Ketumile Masire is on course of being embarrassed by a financial institution in his home land. A country he ruled for 18 straight years.

March 6, his vast property including 2000 head of cattle is set to go under the hammer in a public auction. This is because Masire is struggling to service a debt. National Development Bank (NDB) wants to recover its undisclosed amounts. The bank has placed “an intention to auction property at GM Five Pty (Ltd)” notice. GM Five is a company owned by Masire.

GM Five and Masire recently made newspaper headlines in the diamond
rich country 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 they do not regret it.

In his defence Masire says “I wish to take this opportunity to reassure Batswana that the modest support that was extended to my farming business by DeBeers 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.

The ex president explains that he ceased to have control over his own time and thus could no longer actively attend to his farming interests when he became president in 1980.

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

As president, Masire is said to be responsible for the introduction of comprehensive locial service programs which significantly improved Botswana’s education, communications and health indicators.

More recently, he has been involved with diplomatic initiatives in a number of African countries, including Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Lesotho.

The property set to 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.

Mr. Ketumile Masire was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991.

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