- The land is actually worth the P6 Million initially offered-Mine
- “Value inexplicably inflated six times”
- Only land tribunal or high court can review amount- Sebetela
- Landed part of Morupule B open cast mine extension
A Morupule Coal Mine valuation into the land compensation of former Cabinet Minister Boyce Sebetela has established that Ngwato Land Board had engaged in ‘unexplained’ mathematical, double counting and figure inflations which saw him purportedly entitled to a whooping P26 million.
The coal mine established in its own valuation that the land is actually worth the P6 Million that Ngwato Land Board initially offered Sebetela. After Sebetela contested the offer, Morupule Coal Mine says it was inexplicably increased six times.
“We engaged our own valuers who found that the land is worth the initial amount of P6 Million initially reached by Ngwato Land Board. We then decided to compassionately add P3 Million on top. So, our valuation currently stands at around P9 million compared to their irrational P26 Million,” revealed a senior employee at Morupule Coal Mine who said they engaged, Real Reach, reputable international property valuers and property managers.
This was confirmed by Senior Consultant at Real Reach Nightingale Kwele. “It is true that we were engaged over the Morupule Coal Mine land valuation issue but it is my client who can give me the go ahead to discuss the content of our findings. Other than that, there is no way I can assist,” he said.
Sebetela, for his part, told The Botswana Gazette that he had not been briefed about Morupule mine’s counter-valuation and that he only has the November 2016 resolution by the Ngwato Land Board.
“This is a matter between the state and the land owner. Section 32 and 33 of the tribal land act clearly stipulates that only the land owner can complain about the compensation. Nobody other than these two parties can provide a separate compensation assessment. Nobody can review these except the land tribunal or high court in our view,” Sebetlela said, emphasizing that they take orders from government and cannot comment much at this point.
According to Sebetela, there is no way the land board can review its own resolution. “That would be shocking. We never demanded that amount it was given to us as our compensation,” he said.
Some senior officials in the Ministry of Land however say Sebetela is mistaken. “He is of the view that the land board is ex officio meaning it cannot go against a judicial decision it has made. But he is mistaken in that the original decision of the land board was P6 Million. He appealed and it went to P26 million. So, if it was acting ex officio then the right figure is the first decision. But landlords are not judicial bodies that is why he had the right to appeal,” advised a highly placed source within the ministry.
An expert source close to the case has pointed out that the purchasing authority also has the right to appeal landlord’s decision. “In this case it was more than justified because the difference between the original figure and the last figure of P26m was made up of unexplained mathematical, double counting and inflation of figures. I believe that the figures were made up otherwise the land board would not have just decided to make errors that more than increases the original figure more than four or five times.”
“Our investigations are that what this fellow did was to go around purchasing fields from farmers simply because he had insider information on the mine area expansion,” the source revealed.
Former Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Sadique Kebonang had recommended that ex-president Ian Khama make a directive for a compulsory acquisition of the land but Sebetela and other farmers were extra cautious to avoid leading government to that decision.
Government applied this discretion to acquire land from Kagiso Ranch to construct Platjaan bridge in the Bobirwa area. It remains to be seen how this matter will unfold with ministers Kebonang and Prince Maele as well as Permanent Secretary in the Lands ministry now gone.
It is understood that Kebonang was against the P26 million ‘inflation’ while Maele backed it.
Morupule Coal Mine has always been worried that should the government accede to the costly proposal by the Ngwato Land Board to pay Sebetela over P26 million, and six other farmers a combined P10 million, this could result in a bad compensation precedent as it will render future related acquisitions difficult and expensive.
The mine intends to develop a new open cast mine which will supply coal to the upcoming extension of Morupule B power station.