The Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi has raised eyebrows at the Bobonong sub land board with his request for purchase of a piece of land temporarily leased to Zhong Gan Engineering and Construction. The land which is just next to Thune Dam was leased to the Chinese construction company to use as a site camp. Botswana Gazette is in possession of documents that show that there has been communication between Kgathi through his wife Betty and Zhong Gan Thune Dam project site manager Justin Peng. In the letter addressed to the Chinese company, Betty Kgathi , through their lodge, Sebata-Kgomo (Pty) Ltd have shown interest on the site camp situated between Molalatau and Mathathane in the Bobonong constituency.
In a letter addressed to Bobonong Sub Land Board by Sebata- Kgomo Lodge Managing Director Betty Kgathi, dated 25th November 2014, the tourist enterprise intends to expand its business venture and that “we have discovered a huge tourist potential in the area and hereby request that Ngwato Land board allocates this piece of land for that purpose.”
The Botswana Gazette has established that the area around Thune Dam has only been allocated for agricultural purposes and there are currently no plans for tourism activities. Sources at the land board said while Kgathi’s request is not illegal, it is concerning that the Kgathi’s would be willing to purchase the land that would likely revert to the land board upon the ending of the lease. “The Minister knows something. The idea of tourism activity in the area has been mooted but a final decision is far from being made. Even when it is made, it has been suggested that local communities be empowered such that they are the ones responsible for running the activity.” The source said further, questioning how the minister would be so sure of tourism potential in the area while the consultation process is ongoing, “A report will be out soon on whether it can be used for tourism, is it possible that the minister is disadvantaging his own constituents?” the source said.
A letter written by Zhong Gan Thune Dam Project site manager Peng, confirms their intention to hand over the site camp once an agreement is reached. “We would like to confirm that it is our intention to hand over our Thune Dam site camp (temporary camp for the construction of Thune Dam and Associated Works) to Sebata-Lodge on a ‘cost replacement’ basis,” the letter reads in part. According to the letter, the site includes temporary structures like offices, residential houses, workshops and store rooms, internal power reticulation, internal water reticulation, elevated water tanks and a fence around the whole plot.
Betty Kgathi declined to respond to inquiries referring the reporter to Shaw Kgathi who she said had all the information. Shaw Kgathi also declined to comment “I do not understand why the business dealings of Sebata -Kgomo should be a newspaper story,” he said. Zhong Gan could not be reached for comment as their phones rang unanswered.
At the time of going to print, Ngwato Land Board had not responded to a questionnaire sent to them.