I wish to speak this because I have the duty to speak the truth.
One of the greatest honors of my life was on Sunday, the 5th March, 2017, whereby I had to go to South Africa to honor an olive branch that was extended to me by one of the people whom I have been writing rubbish about. The man is none other than Khato Civils boss, Mr. Simbi Phiri. The purpose was to give me his side of the story so that if I choose to continue vilifying him, I should at least be doing so while aware what the truth surrounding the accusations and allegations against him is.
A meeting that was estimated to take us a few hours ended up consuming approximately TEN good hours with him talking non-stop describing what Khato Civils is all about, what it has gone through and its remarkable performance in the construction sector across countries.
From his sentiments, I noticed a gentleman who felt sorry for me for taking pleasure in peddling wanton allegation without seeking to hear from him or make efforts to know about him. I must admit that I did not know I was a stupid kid until I got wisdom from this gentleman. I am inclined to share, with you my dear friends, pals and enemies, some of the issues surrounding this sudden wave of attack on his personal and business integrity.
To begin with, I must confess that from the plant, equipment, capacity and structures of Khato Civils, that I have witnessed, I can assure you that the company is not just any other name on the statistics. It is a huge company of which the reputable overseas companies that you and I know get shit-scared of when it comes to business. But I am neither here nor there to compare Khato to other civil companies. My wish is bent towards highlighting the major two swirling issues emanating from Botswana and Malawi.
Mr. Simbi has been accused by the media that he was smuggling cash into Botswana from South Africa. The allegations were that this money was not declared at the border when entering Botswana. I used to believe this and I echoed these allegations with passion like crazy.
The truth is that Khato Civils initially identified a problem in Botswana to which they envisaged a solution, designed that solution and packed it into unsolicited Express of Interest. They booked for an appointment with the President of Botswana and briefed him of the same upon which the President consulted with the relevant minister. The President and the minister agreed to instruct relevant staff to tender the project.
Several companies including Chinese companies who had been dominating projects in Botswana responded to the tender, but none had beaten Khato Civils on the specified demands of the tender. For example out of 16 companies who competed, only Khato Civils produced [read as issued] a bond of USD 2 million which was required by the instructions in the tender. The rest of the companies only improvised by attaching Letters of Credit from banks, clearly missing out on specifications. Furthermore, voluminous bid document of Khato Civils contained such technical specifications which placed the company way ahead of the rest of the competitors.
This other contractor who had been dominant and had established himself an empire of collusion started feeling trains in his stomach and quickly sprung into action. He schemed a plot in which moneys held in the accounts of Khato Civils and its Chief Manager (herein Mr. Simbi Phiri) in Botswana got frozen. The reason given was that his moneys were SUSPECTED of being proceeds of crime. Which crime, they were totally unable to specify. The cash which was alleged to have been smuggled into Botswana was dully declared at the border with all supporting documents authorizing the externalization of such money. Documents from the Central Bank of South Africa were showing such authorization and indication that such money were proceeds of business and not crime. No wonder when the matter was brought before the court by the prosecutors, the judge had to dismiss it on want of evidence.
As the court battles protracted by his pursuers, a recent determination by the Court has vindicated the innocence and honesty of Khato Civils and its boss. Apparently, Khato is poised to eventually win the contract and ready to deliver. The pursuers, nevertheless, gave guns to the media with which to shoot the reputation of Khato as their aim to dislodge the company boils on.
At the center is the Lake Malawi – Lilongwe water project. I have emphasized before that this project is extremely important. This is one thing that I have been honest about, through and through. However, you are aware that I have been one of the disciples who passionately helped spread all sorts of insinuations and innuendos that portrayed the project as being riddled with corruption and fraud intents.
In my misinformed bubbling, I declared, without shame, that there has been price fixing and other attendant fraud mechanics ranging from improper awarding process to tender manipulation.
The truth, which I figured out in our conversation, is that Khato Civils competed with other foreign bidders including Mota Engil. Only Khato Civils had expressed guarantee to work with its own money from start to finish so that government can pay in installments thereafter. After appreciating the technical specifications of the project which were explained to me in detail, I instantly established that the claims which I used to sing that the billing of USD500 million was just too much, were actually mad. I was insane for ignoring the requirement to look into such dynamics and specifications and I don’t want to continue with such insanity.
This understanding of the crispy and germane issues clamoring for assessment that ought to precede determination was actually supposed to be from the word go. But in my Private Court of Opinion, I hastily convicted Khato and Mr. Phiri. It is this hasty judgment upon which the burden I fully bear and firmly pack into due apology.
No wonder, the Court in Botswana, while ruling on the proof of urgency in the application of his case, established that Mr. Simbi is a victim whose rights are under threat from wanton forces of competition and jealous.
His competitors, who are apparently trailing behind him, and cannot even effectively compete with him, throw cards of foul play in a bid to tame his acceleration. In the process, he unfortunately lies supine in the face of flourishing prejudice as the public gets hugely fed with unfair diet of propaganda. I was one of such unfortunate consumers and consequently regurgitated the same. Not anymore!
Henceforth, in a balanced glean of his eminent profile I stoutly aver that this man is a prolific business mogul floating in a league of his own across the sub-Saharan part of Africa.
Carried with this statement is a single-pronged duty of repairing any harm that might have been occasioned by my erstwhile remarks that paralleled, or sought to parallel, this gentleman from his honesty and integrity.