AG dismisses Matambo’s BDC suit

Finance and Development Planning Minister Kenneth Matambo’s legal bid to have the parliamentary  select committee investigating  the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) Fengyue Glass Manufacturing Palapye Glass Project reviewed is being dismissed by the Attorney General.
Matambo is suing parliament for its Parliamentary Select Committee report on the BDC-Fengyue Glass Manufacturing (Botswana). He argues that the committee’s findings or conclusions and recommendations as contained in the report and the manner in which the Committee conducted its hearings are prejudicial to him as they are adverse. The minister seeks to argue that the committee has flouted basic natural justice principles in respect of his person.
In their answering affidavit the government has through the chairperson of the select committee Abram Kesupile dismissed Matambo’s claims.
Kesupile stated that, “the committee functioned in terms of the National Assembly and that no civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against any member for the words spoken before or written in a report to the assembly. Neither speaker nor any officer of the assembly shall be the subject of the jurisdiction of any court in respect of the exercise of any power conferred on or vested in by the speaker,” he stated.
“Any inquiry into the proceedings of the committee in respect thereof would contravene this fundamental constitutional principle. The committee strictly complied with the procedure set forth in the powers and privileges Act read together with the standing orders of the National Assembly of Botswana.”
The answering affidavit goes on to state that the remedy of judicial review is available to persons whose rights are affected by proceedings before and decisions taken by judicial and administrative tribunals, whose decisions have direct external legal effect upon the rights and obligations of such a person. “But these proceedings are destined to inquire into and establish the facts pertaining to the brief of the committee and the report arising from the inquiry is nothing more than a collective opinion of its members, and as such the report is covered by the immunity granted to it by section 3 of the Powers and Privileges Act,” the report reads.
The committee’s findings point to the failure to comply with pre-disbursement conditions as well as irregularities at BDC that led to the collapse of the project. It points to lack of due diligence on prospective investment partners as chief among the factors that led to the failure of the project
The report further shows how BDC management was purposely kept in the dark when disturbing revelations about the Shanghai Fengyue Glass CO surfaced.The committee found that, subsequent to the resolution in terms of which the investment was approved, and as part of the due diligence investigation that followed, it emerged that the said company was a company of low net worth.
The Fengyue Glass manufacturing  company was liquidated last year for inability to pay its debts and its questionable commercial viability, a financial embarrassment that cost the  Botswana government in excess of 500 million pula.