- Claims Infotrac made the contract with Milton personal deal
- Infotrac stands its grounds that it was not
From secretly installing surveillance equipment to spy upon mine union members and a series of squabbles and internal politics, the trial before Justice Abednego Tafa of the Gaborone High Court has all the makings of scandal on a grand scale.
What emerged when the MD of private security and investigations firm Infotrac, Mompoloki Motshidi delivered his evidence last week was that Debswana wanted to hinge on technicalities to deny liability in an oral/verbal contract with Infotrac.
The contract entailed clearing the path the very Milton, then General Manager at Jwaneng Mine, to assume the lucrative position of Managing Director of Debswana by improving his personal and professional image and lobbying the right people.
Court learnt that following the departure of then MD, Balisi Bonyongo, Debswana expressed its interest in Milton succeeding him and that this plan well known to heads of security at Debswana and Bonyongo himself. Infotrac would be paid P110 million upon conclusion of the contract in a staggered payment plan to be decided by Debswana.
It is this part of the deal that has landed Debswana in open court where its linen is being washed in public because Motshidi is determined to be paid in accordance with what he says were the terms of a verbal contract. Cross-examined by his lawyer, Kgosietsile Ngakaagae, Motshidi said after completion of the work, Debswana kept on asking for more time to settle the bill. “Nothing in our agreement forced me to submit (the invoice) earlier,” he said. According to Motshidi, Debswana was to propose how to pay the P110 million. “The proposal was to attach the payment to its projects, one of them being the Cut 9 project.”
Debswana seeks rescue in Milton
According to Motshidi, he has faced much rigmarole since Milton, the man whose recruitment was the nub of the contested contract, died in August 2019. As it turns out, it is to Milton that Debswana is turning for rescue. The company’s lawyer, John Carr-Hartley of Armstrong Attorneys, this week sought to distance Debswana from the contract by saying it was entered into by Milton and Infotrac.
However, Motshidi disputed this and told the court that Milton had denied liability in his personal capacity in a letter to Infotrac. Milton passed on 16 August 2019. Whereupon Carr-Hartley returned that Debswana said had equally denied any liability in a letter written in 2020 immediately after submission of the Infotrac invoice.
As the trial of Botswana’s richest parastatal progressed a former Permanent Secretary to the President under Ian Khama, Carter Morupisi, who was then Deputy Chairman of the Board of Debsawana, said after Motshidi contacted him about the issue, he contacted the late Milton who said he was travelling but promised to settle the invoice upon his return to his office. According to Morupisi, he could not have been privy of the details of the work rendered by Infotrac because security services are a restricted black box affair. A senior Debswana employee also told the court yesterday that he was not aware of the contract.
This was followed by Ngakaagae (for Motshidi) interjection: “My client is (equally) shocked that Debswana has breached its own procedures.” But Motshidi punched back saying the Debswana lawyer was deviating from the truth. “That is not the brief I was given by Debswana head of Security and his team. The brief I received was that the spy equipment was to monitor and spy on union leaders,” charged the Spy Master-Motshidi.