The controversy surrounding announcement that former President Sir Ketumile Masire will not attend any political party veered off into a new row with his office distancing itself from its original statement that he would not attend launches of political party candidates. This week Masire’s private secretary Charles Mogotsi accused the media of misreading the press release that was issued by his office early this year.
“The release never said Sir Ketumile would not attend launching of parliamentary candidates. It said he would not launch any parliamentary candidate. So basically, this office cannot answer to the question that is misplaced and therefore, irrelevant,” said Mogotsi in response to queries as to why Masire recently attended Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) political candidate Daniel Kwelagobe’s launch. However it has since emerged that Masire’s office had stated in its previous statement that he would not only launch candidates but also not attend such launches.
The reproduced statement reads, ““The Office of the Former President wishes to inform all concerned that requests made to the Former President to launch political party candidates or attend any political rally shall without prejudice not be honoured now or ever.” The statement added that “The Office of the Former President is inundated with such requests and it is the strong feeling of the Former President that he shall cease to consider them and that this shall take effect immediately.”
Unconfirmed allegations also state that Masire was recently summoned to appear at a meeting at the Office of the President to discuss his subversive speech that he gave at the funeral of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) late President Gomolemo Motswaledi. “My office is not aware of the purported meeting at the Office of the President. As a matter of fact Former President Masire was officiating at the launching of Mabijo 25th Silver Jubilee so clearly he could not have been at that meeting at the same time if at all there was such a meeting,” said Mogotsi. But when pressed further Mogotsi said “I have not denied or confirmed the holding of the meeting. I was just stating the position of my office. Whatever happens at the Office of the President does not really impact on us in this regard.” There are even claims that Masire allegedly walked out of the meeting.
Government spokesperson Jeff Ramsay said “I’m informed that there was no such a meeting.” But sources insist that a resolution was adopted at the meeting in question to the effect that as a way forward Masire’ public speeches would be issued from the Office of the President. Sources say at the time of issuing the statement announcing that Masire would not attend political rallies or launch candidates his office was under pressure from BDP and OP to issue the statement.