Botswana Says No to Open Details of Deal

Gaborone: Botswana has defended its silence on “mega” diamond mining deals saying that “no country signs transparent agreements”.

Reuters recently quoted World Bank Group consultant Nils Handler as saying that government’s decision to keep the negotiation process around contracts for diamond mining and large integrated projects confidential was a cause for concern.

He said a more open process, including published contracts, would assist Botswana in becoming a more transparent and accountable jurisdiction.

However, Botswana’s minerals and water affairs minister Sadique Kebonang dismissed World Bank’s concerns saying that commercial agreements were confidential by nature because of the sensitive of information they carry.

“We have various representatives from the Ministry, parastatal and private sectors Government and private attorneys and mining experts who are part of government’s negotiating team,” he was quoted as saying by Mmegi newspaper.

“The participation of such parties in the negotiation process renders the negotiation process transparent.”

He also said, “even the World Bank, when they give us loans some details of the loan agreement are kept secret”.

Kebonang said details of the mega mining deals would be made public once agreements had been sealed. Botswana, according to Reuters, earns 89 percent of its foreign exchange income and 30 percent of national revenues from mining, mainly diamonds.

It had numerous large-scale mining, sales and marketing contracts with De Beers, a unit of Anglo American. De Beers and Botswana jointly own Debswana and DTC Botswana. Botswana also owns a 15 percent stake in De Beers.