Julius Malema, Commander of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who was declared prohibited immigrant in Botswana will be the guest speaker at the launch of Botswana National Front (BNF) council candidate for Borakalalo ward in Molepolole North, Arafat Khan. Sunday Standard is in possession of a letter addressed to South Africa’s High Commissioner to Botswana, Mdu Lembede, notifying him of Malema’s impending visit. In the letter, signed by Commissar Magdalene Moonsamy, Head of EFF’s International Relations and Solidarity Unit, the party declared that they anticipate a positive visit to Botswana. “Revolutionary greetings.
Allow me to take this opportunity to introduce the EFF, the third largest political party in South Africa. This letter aims at informing you that the Commander in Chief of the EFF, Julius Sello Malema, together with a delegation of EFF senior officials, will be visiting the Republic of Botswana between the 11th and 15th of September,” read the letter. The visit was also confirmed by Khan, who revealed that Malema will come with a strong delegation that includes five members of parliament. He said he personally invited Malema, whom he considers a personal friend, to officiate at his launch. Khan will be launched as a BNF council candidate on September 13th in Borakalalo ward, Molepolole North. Speakers at the launch will include BNF President Duma Boko, a close friend of Khan. Aubrey Lesaso, James Mathokgwane, Pono Moathodi, Billy Makuku and Kgosi Tawana Moremi will also speak at Khan’s launch. Khan also revealed that a number of big name Botswana and South African artists will perform at the launch. “Please note that Malema was not invited by the BNF. I invited him personally. He is a staunch Comrade with whom I share common interests, particularly with regards to the African agenda,” he said.
He added that his relationship with Malema pre-dates even the fateful ANCYL congress of 2010, which was attended by Khan and then BNFYL President Kagiso Ntime, who has since defected to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). “We made a presentation about Botswana to the ANCYL national governing council, which inspired them to declare their position on Botswana. Cde Malema was later dismissed from the ANC because of this stance,” said Khan. The relationship goes further, as the BNFYL Secretary General also delivered a solidarity message at the launch of the EFF in Marikana.
He was also invited to the EFF’s anniversary rally on July 26th in Soweto. Asked to trace his history in the BNF, Khan said he cannot remember the year he joined the BNF. In fact, he insists that he never joined the BNF, but rather emerged from within the BNF. “I have never joined the BNF, I emerged in the BNF. I have been an active member of the party for the past 12 years and I have served with dedication in many structures. I was the BNFYL spokesperson from 2006 to 2010 when I was elected Secretary General,” he said. Khan remains the BNFYL Secretary General and council candidate for Borakalalo ward. Khan is expected to win the ward, which is within the Molepolole North constituency. Mahomed Khan of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is widely expected to trounce BDP candidate and incumbent Member of Parliament Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri in the constituency during the 2014 general elections. Reports alleged that President Ian Khama has called for concerted campaigns at the constituency as all indications point to declining fortunes for the BDP. Molepolole North is among the 25 constituencies identified in a confidential BDP document as likely to be won by the opposition. The situation is further worsened by divisions within BDP members in the constituency after the acrimonious Bulela Ditswe primary elections.
It remains to be seen whether Malema will be able to address Khan’s launch after previous attempts were met with resistance from the BNF mother body who were loath to endanger relations with the African National Congress (ANC). In 2013, Botswana put Malema on VISA restrictions after his attack on President Ian Khama in 2011, during which he made calls for regime change in Botswana and called Khama’s government a puppet of the west. Malema also labeled Botswana as a potential security threat to the region, saying Botswana was in negotiations to open a military base for the imperialists.
Malema was later expelled from the ANC. Still last year, the BNFYL clashed with its mother body after they invited Malema, then a leader of the EFF, to deliver a keynote address at their elective congress. The BNF leadership felt that Malema’s visit would sour relations with the ANC as he would no doubt use the opportunity to launch an onslaught on the ANC.