The Botswana government this week distanced itself from remarks by former Vice President Mompati Merafhe who told a press conference recently that Zimbabwe elections were a “circus”.
Minister of Presidential Affair and Public Administration Mokgweetsi Masisi told Parliament that Merafhe’s remark was a personal opinion that government will not apologise for.
Fielding questions from legislators on Zimbabwe’s elections, Masisi said “the circus statement was an off the cuff comment. The official government position is as contained in the statement that was made by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Phandu Skelemani.”
On Friday legislators bombarded Masisi with a series of questions on Zimbabwe’s election saga, querying Merafhe’s comment, calls for an audit and whether government would apologise for the ex-VP’s view.
Gaborone Central legislator, Dumelang Saleshando, who tabled the question wanted government to explain why its position contradicts that of the Southern African Development Committee (SADC) committee and whether Botswana would fund a second round of elections.
“Merafhe was head of the delegation…if we say the elections were a circus then we have already pre-empted the outcome of the audit,” said Maun West MP Tawana Moremi.
“Can you deny or confirm allegations that you were sponsoring the Movement For Democratic Change (MDC-T),”asked Kanye North MP, Kentse Rammidi.
Saleshando also wanted to know Botswana’s moral authority in criticizing the Zimbabwean elections arguing that like Zimbabwe, Botswana’s elections were not fair.
“Who are you to ask others to undertake an audit when you yourself cannot implement recommendations of your own audit,” said Saleshando.
Cautious not to rebuke his former boss, Masisi maintains that there is no need for an apology because Merafhe’s personal view does not compromise government.
The minister also stated that Merafhe cannot be blamed for his personal view since his view was probably informed by what he observed during the voting exercise in Zimbabwe.
“The statement was a personal view, suffice to state that it was unfortunate,” said Masisi.
“It will be up to Lt Gen Merafhe to retract his statement or apologise….however if the statement had been made by Honourable Phandu Skelemani we would have taken issue with it,” he added.
Masisi also denied allegations that government had sponsored Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC.