Botswana ex-President defends diamond company jobBy MTOKOZISI DUBE in Gaborone | Friday, June 15 2012 at 16:29
Former Botswana President Festus Mogae has defended his appointment to the board of directors of Indian diamond company, Shrenuj International, saying it is not in contravention of any law as he is an unemployed citizen.
Mr Mogae's appointment last month has raised eyebrows in the country he ruled for ten years with some opposition parties questioning why he would be involved with a diamond company.
But Mr Mogae has clarified that he is not a director in Shrenuj's local subsidy, but of the parent company in India.
The group operates a diamond cutting and polishing company as well as a jewellery manufacturing plant in Botswana.
"Our aspiration as Batswana is to participate in many sectors of the economy and Batswana should learn from other leading diamond economies,” said Mr Mogae.
Mr Mogae, who was Botswana’s president between 1998 and 2008, said Shrenuj is a private company, which was established by a 1957 Indian company Act.
“I am not standing against the interests of Batswana and I have taken Botswana to be listed amongst the best countries in Africa.”
He added: “We should complete our diamond law in order to compete with other leading nations in the world. There are no shady dealings behind this and why should I do bad after excelling in the development of my country.”
Mr Mogae claims to have recruited a lot of companies to Botswana during his term, many of which now have branches worldwide.
He also said that about 30 diamond companies applied to trade in Botswana and 16 of them have been licensed. Shrenuj was the first company to set up a jewellery manufacturing plant in Botswana and currently exports to the USA under the AGOA trade arrangement.
Apart from Botswana, Bombay Stock Exchange-listed Shrenuj & Company Limited has an integrated gem and jewellery conglomerate in 14 other countries with activities ranging from diamond processing, jewellery manufacturing to branding and retailing. It employs over 2,500 people in its worldwide operations.
In Botswana, Mr Mogae is also the board chair of retail chain, Choppies.
He won the 2008 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, and will receive $5 million over 10 years and $200,000 annually for life thereafter.
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