The Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) is said to have entered the fray over the stalemate between Morupule Coal Mine (MCM) andsome farmers who are refusing to sell their land to cater for the mine’s expansion.
Former cabinet minister Boyce Sebetlela is among those owning farms in the mine’s targeted area. Information gathered by this publication isthat DCEC is investigating how some of the farmers in the area acquired the land near Morupule Mine. DCEC spokesperson Phakamile Kraai has confirmed that they are investigating land issues around Morupule.“I can confirm that the DCEC is investigating some land issues surrounding Morupule Colliery Mine,” he said. Sebetlela is demanding P26 million for his piece of land while six other famers want P10 million and MCM is worried that should government go ahead and accede to their demand it will set a bad precedent. Addressing the media recently, the Minister of Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Advocate Sadique Kebonang said the demand by farmers was outrageous. He has submitted a recommendation to cabinet to ask President Ian Khama to make a directive for a compulsory acquisition of a chunk of land eyed for a new open cast coal mine near Palapye. Initially Sebetlela demanded P12, 428 million but after a revised review by Ngwato Land Board the figure shot to P26 millionwhilst other farmers are to have been paid between P677 000 and P2.2 million each. The new figures suggested by the Ngwato Land Board were, however, rejected by MCM on grounds that it will serve as a deterrent for any future project as the land acquisition would make it cost prohibitive. The demand by Sebetlela and other farmers is said to have a negative impact on the carried out of the project as MCM has no surface rights and financiers are reluctant to release funds until the rights have been secured. In June 2012, the Morupule Colliery Limited (MCL) 1 expansion project was commissioned. The project was launched in October 2010 at a cost of P1.7billion ($218m). It was undertaken to supply coal to the new 600MW Morupule B power station built next to the Morupule A plant. MCM was a subsidiary of Debswana before the Government bought De Beers out of the mine and transferred all the shares to Minerals Development Company of Botswana (MDCB). Sebetlela is an employee of Debswana which he joined in November 2007. He holds the position of Head of Strategy and Business Improvement.