When Pula Steel Casting and Manufacturers roll out production of their first billet at the Selibe Phikwe based plant in August 2015 one of the happiest men will be Brian Mosenene-co-owner and Director, Corporate Services at the company.
The Patriot on Sunday paid a visit to Mosenene at his offices in Selibe Phikwe last week. With an infectious smile of a man content with his achievement Mosenene revealed that they have already secured long offtake international market for their product with customers in China, Dubai and India and will export 50% of their billet. He conceded that they were behind schedule as they lost two months and completed basic construction in December 2014 instead of October of the same year. Civil works will be completed in May 2015 and roofing of the plant by June, said Mosenene.
To demonstrate their determination to deliver the Pula Steel project, Mosenene said 90% of the equipment that will be used in the plant is already in Botswana. “Original Equipment Manufacturers will oversee construction and installation of the plant hence it seems there are more Indian nationals working here than Batswana. This is so because they are experts in steel manufacturing plant,” he said.
The last time Mosenene was in public domain was in 2011 when he was fired as Deputy Director Business Development at the now defunct Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA). Since then he retreated and his name resurfaced last year when copper mining company BCL Limited bought shares at Pula Steel Casting and Manufactures, a company in which Mosenene through Wealth Generations-a company he co-owns with Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general Mpho Balopi.
Mosenene is not looking to the past. He said he has made peace with what happened to him in the past and is a closed chapter. “There is a serious problem of ‘pull him down’ here in Botswana and it is worse when you just come from a rural village like me. Some people tend to believe that others cannot make it where they have failed and they will ensure you fail too,” said Mosenene as he shook his head.
But what really happened at BEDIA and his subsequent dismissal? The Pula Steel corporate service director said some people were just hell bent on tarnishing his name and destroying his career. “I wanted to take them to court to clear my name but they pleaded with me to settle it out of court which I agreed upon after some legal advice from my attorney,” he said.
Mosenene and other three executives were fired after BEDIA instituted a high profile audit conducted by Corporate Forensic Resources after allegations of corruption and intellectual property theft at the corporation.
Mosenene said he was never involved in stealing intellectual property of investors, and further denies involvement in anything illegal. There are some allegations that one of the companies that he lured to Botswana, from which he later benefitted personnaly is Pula Steel but he flatly denies the allegations. “I have known the Vermas since 2000 and were just friends until they suggested to me that we could start a casting and smelting company in Botswana,” he said.
He said that they sold the idea to CEDA who came through as venture capital partners since they realised that it was a viable project. The only problem was from Selibe Phikwe Town Council (SPTC) who wanted to block the allocation of land to their company reasoning that it was for factory shells. “This delayed the start of the project and when BCL heard about our project they approached us and wanted to be our partners and increase the production from 80 to over 200 tonnes per day. We agreed to rope them in the project,” Mosenene revealed.
Mosenene said he is not aware of that some BCL executives were against the copper mining company venturing into the project with Pula Steel. The former BEDIA executive, who has traded pin stripped suits for safety boots and overalls, said that they aware that some people are skeptical about the Pula Steel project. He said they are going to prove them wrong by delivering one of the most successful projects in Botswana as the skepticism provides motivation to them. “We have made promises to the nation and in particular the people of Selibe Phikwe and we are going to ensure that we deliver,” he said oozing with confidence marinated with a smile.
In his parting words, Mosenene appealed to all Batswana to rally behind them and not dwell on the negatives surrounding the project as any venture has its own challenges.