BY THOBO MOTLHOKA
South Africa’s black consciousness, pan Africanist party Black First Land First (BLF) has called on the government of Botswana to ban SA President Cyril Ramaphosa and his brothers in law ,Patrice Motsepe and Jeff Radebe. The party accuses the three, together with Bridget Motsepe-Radebe of colluding to topple President Mokgweetsi Masisi and take over Botswana’s diamond industry.
This is despite compelling evidence that the trio were not aware of Bridget Motsepe’s campaign to unseat President Masisi.
Addressing the media in SA this past week BLF President Andile Mngxitama called on the quartet to keep their hands off Botswana.
“We say to Bridget Radebe, her brother Patrice Motsepe, and the President of the country who is also his brother in law, ‘hands off Botswana’. We ask these people to stop craving for Botswana diamonds. Bridget is accused of coup attempts in Botswana.”
Mngxitama said Motsepe-Radebe stood accused of interfering in the electoral process of the ruling party in Botswana. He said Motsepe-Radebe, with the assistance of her brother’s money, and that of South African President want another President in Botswana. “We as the BLF welcome the visa banning order the Botswana government has brought against Motsepe-Radebe. Botswana is not a banana republic. We stand with the Botswana government and call on them to extend the same to President Ramaphosa, Patrice Motsepe, and Jeff Radebe.”
The government recently placed Motsepe-Radebe on a visa restriction list following accusations of interference in the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) presidential election. She was accused of colluding with the Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi faction that also included Masisi’s estranged predecessor President Ian Khama. The South African mining entrepreneur was also accused of attempting to avail funds to the Venson-Motoi team in an effort to enhance her chances of defeating President Masisi at the BDP’s April 5 Special Congress in Kang.
Billionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe’s lawyers have however written to BLF leader warning him to desist from accusing their client of instigating regime change in Botswana or face a lawsuit.
Motsepe, through his lawyers, asked Mngxitama to, by no later than Sunday, confirm in writing that he would not “make any further remarks to the same effect” as the assertion was “untruthful”.
Mngxitama on Friday confirmed to TimesLIVE that he indeed made the comments, saying Motsepe must rather respond to the remarks by confirming or denying them instead of threatening legal action.
The BLF leader told TimesLIVE that “a visa restriction on Motsepe’s sister, Radebe, was enough grounds to believe that she had interfered with internal politics of the neighbouring country. He added that the fact that Botswana was rich in diamonds and Motsepe was involved in mining was another reason to believe the billionaire was involved.”
The newspaper further quoted the BLP leader saying ,”We know that Botswana’s main mineral resource is diamond and Patrice is in mining so is his sister Bridgette so any reasonable person would deduct, and also you have our minister Radebe and our president who are related to the same family making this the most powerful family on the mineral energy complex in SA interfering in Botswana,” he alleged.
“So we believe our statement is not slanderous nor libellous but rather it is a call to respect the independence of Botswana.
“This thing can be settled very easy. He must simply tell us that he is not involved and we are open to have a dialogue with him should he feel there is a misunderstanding that must be cleared if there is any such at all.”
Motsepe’s laywers said should Mngxitama fail to make a commitment not to repeat his assertion, they would sue him in his personal capacity as well as the BLF.
Ramaphosa has however distanced himself from Motsepe’s alleged meddling in Botswana’s succession politics.
South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu said her government would not interfere with any decision taken by the Botswana government against Motsepe-Radebe.
“His Excellency the President of the Republic of Botswana Dr. Mokgweetsi E. K. Masisi today received a special envoy of His Excellency President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, in the person of the Honourable Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Ms. Lindiwe Sisulu,” the government said last week.
“The government shall deal with the individuals accordingly and take appropriate actions that may include declaring such individuals persona non grata or imposing visa restrictions,” Foreign Affairs Minister Unity Dow had said before the Ministry of Immigration released a communique informing the public of their decision to impose visa restrictions on Motsepe-Radebe and her co-accused Malcom X.