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The Botswana High Commission in London has used the government money under the destitute vote to bail out Botswana National Front and leader of opposition Otsweletse Moupo.
Moupo ran out of money while on a private trip in England this week, before turning to the High Commission to report his plight.
This was confirmed to Sunday Standard by Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mustaq Moorad.
At the same time the BNF spin doctors were busy scratching their heads on how to dig their leader out of the deep end of an embarrassing mishap within which he found himself.
BNF Publicity Chief called the money an “advance” against Moupo’s salary, but Moorad held a different view, saying the money is used to bail out stranded citizens.
Moorad said the vote is created for citizens who get stranded while outside the country and are not for different reasons able to return home.
“Many other citizens have used this money under the same plight,” said Moorad, referring to the fact that Moupo had approached the High Commission in London requesting for financial assistance.
“Hopefully he will pay next month,” said Moorad.
Asked what reasons Moupo furnished the officials before they issued him with the money, Moorad said it is unlikely the government officials pushed as far as to know Moupo’s reasons given the fact that he is a public figure well-known to the officials.
Moorad said all that was needed was a guarantee in the form of a letter that when back home Moupo would then reimburse government.
“He has made an undertaking to pay back the money once here. There was no need for him to give reasons as to what really happened. He was obviously desperate and he is a Motswana so we wouldn’t ask for much more than a guarantee to repay the government,” said Moorad.
Moorad was not in a position to say if the money lent Moupo was personally authorized by Vice President Ian Khama who happened to be in London, holding a series of meetings with the High Commission staff at the time when Moupo was stranded.
Moupo is likely to face Khama in the next elections.
The BNF Publicity Chief, Moeti Mohwasa, tried to downplay the implications of Moupo’s debacle saying the BNF President was on a private trip.
Mohwasa said Moupo had paid for all his expenses upfront, but had an emergency in England which forced him to extend his stay but with no extra cash to cover the costs of his extended stay.
“He needed extra cash to carry him through three more days, hence he asked for money from the High Commission,” said Mohwasa.
“I do not think he was careless. He will come and brief the party,” said the clearly exasperated Mohwasa who was at pains to defend and protect his boss.
Privately though, some BNF Central Committee members were conceding that Moupo’s action’s were “somewhat reckless,” adding that as a leader of opposition, he should have known better about the potential embarrassment his move would cause the party and the inherent potential for the ruling party to capitalise on the mishap to gain political mileage and undermine his integrity.
“As Member of Parliament and leader of opposition it will be very difficult to convince the nation that this was a private matter that had no connection with the BNF. He is no longer a private person especially because he wants to sell himself as a future President,” said one staunch BNF member.
The true picture of what really happened as well as the political implications will not be clear until Moupo addresses his quarterly press briefing scheduled for June 12.
“Details will become clear at that briefing. But I want to emphasise that since he was on a private trip, he didn’t even have to consult the party,” said Mohwasa.
Even before his arrival to issue an explanation, BNF insiders were aleady talking finding a suitable replacement who will be better marketed as a future president.
This triggered the fears of a replay of a dirty power play reminiscent of the days following Dr. Kenneth Koma’s retirement, whereupon Moupo emerged as the favorite.