Khama tosses nephew from Wilderness to state diamond company
- Jaqualine’s son, Wilderness Safaris director and Lady Khama Trust overseer, takes over
- In 2012 Botswana Diamond Hub leader said a citizen was being groomed for the post
- A foreigner was hunted to fill the post while the nephew was being prepared
President Ian Khama has appointed his nephew, Marcus Patrick Khama Ter Haar to head the state-owned Okavango Diamond Company (ODC), a position previously spared for highly experienced foreigners “while the government was still preparing a suitable citizen”.
Ter Haar replaces the company’s founding Managing Director, Toby Frears, who was recruited by the government from De Beers in 2012, to head the company whose mandate is to establish a sales channel that will further strengthen Botswana’s expanding position in the global diamond market.
The appointment of Frears and the delay in his recruitment caused the postponed to the envisaged launch by Government, of diamond sales by ODC in the first half of 2012. The former Botswana diamond hub coordinator and chairman of the ODC board, Jacob Thamage speaking at the time, said Frears would lead the company’s development and operations until a Motswana was suitably prepared for the role.
“The appointment of Mr. Frears as ODC’s managing director is an important milestone,” said Thamage. Supported by the Board, he will lead the new company’s development and operations until a Motswana is suitably prepared for the role,” he noted. At this juncture, many did not know that the Motswana who was earmarked to take over the lucrative position would be Khama’s nephew. Khama’s nephew, who is also a board member of Lady Khama Charitable trust and non-executive director, as well as board member of the audit committee at Wilderness Safaris which has recently made national headlines over a controversial bid to acquire Air Botswana for privatization. President Khama himself has interests in Wilderness Safaris.
Efforts to reach Thamage for comment on the current developments proved futile, at the time of going to press as his former employer said they did not have his contacts.
Although Ter Haar has been involved in the diamond industry for some time, those close to the appointment say that the mist is now clearing on the grand-plan by the Khamas and their newly developed interest in the diamond industry. Recent media reports have revealed that President Khama has entered into sudden re-negotiations with De-Beers, a decade before the Government lease expires, raising suspicions on the motives.
ODC was established following the renewal of the Debswana Sales Agreement between the government of and De Beers. The agreement allows government to purchase and sell an increasing proportion of Debswana production.
It is not yet clear where Frears is heading but sources say he may have been pushed to create space for Ter Haar.
Khama’s nephew’s role will be to build a commercially driven company that will contribute to the further development of Botswana’s expanding downstream diamond industry among many others. The company’s commercial strategy is to deliver a market leading value proposition which will encourage diamantaires from Botswana and across the world to acquire their rough diamonds from ODC at globally competitive, market determined prices.
The Khama interest in the mining industry is not a new development. Marcus Ter Haar’s brother, Dale has been the General Manager of CIC Energy and CEO of CIC Energy Corp in Botswana. He oversaw one of the biggest mining projects in the country- the multi-billion pula Mmamabula project. The company’s website, indicates that Dale has been the head of CIC Energy’s Botswana office since it was established in 2006.
Like his uncle Ian Khama, Dale received military training at Sandhurst Royal Military Academy in the United Kingdom and further served in the British military, rising up to the rank of major. He is a graduate of the University of Cardiff where he obtained a Bachelor of Science with a major in Business Administration.
The rise of the Newly appointed ODC Boss- Marcus ter Haar
Marcus began his career as a graduate trainee, after which he became the Personal Assistant to the former Chief Executive Officer of De Beers, Gareth Penny. He was later seconded to NM Rothschild as an Investment Analyst in order to further develop his commercial experience, before returning to De Beers as a Corporate Finance Executive (De Beers Group Services) and, more recently, the Group Manager for Business Development at Debswana Projects.
Marcus received a BA (Hons) in Economic Development from the University of East Anglia, in UK, and a Masters degree in International Relations from the University of Reading, UK and He was trained, like Khama, at the Sandhurst Royal Military Academy in Britain and served in the British army for 10 years.
Ter Haar could not be reached as his secretary, Bianca said he was out of the office.