BY THOBO MOTLHOKA
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has reached out to President Mokgweetsi Masisi, assuring his Botswana counterpart of his administration’s commitment to maintaining cordial relations between the two governments.
Ramaphosa’s efforts follow a series of articles written by Sunday Standard revealing attempts by his sister-in-law and wife to South Africa’s Energy Minister Jeff Radebe to effect a regime change in Botswana.
The South African government’s initial failure to respond and distance themselves from Bridget Motsepe-Radebe’s actions following the Sunday Standard expos├®s left many questioning Ramaphosa’s commitment to working with President Masisi’s government following the departure of his now estranged predecessor Ian Khama.
Leaked conversations and secret meetings between Motsepe-Radebe and members of Masisi’s then Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) presidential challenger Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s campaign team demonstrated the South African mining entrepreneur’s attempts to assist them oust Masisi from the party and country’s presidency.
The Office of the President on Thursday confirmed the visit by Ramaphosa’s envoy whose aim was to allay any fears of possible meddling by Ramaphosa’s government in Botswana’s presidential succession plans.
“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 communiqu├® reads. It says Sisulu conveyed a message from President Ramaphosa reiterating the long standing and excellent relations subsisting between the Republic of Botswana and the Republic of South Africa. “The message assured that despite the recent media reports, relations between the two countries remain solid. His Excellency Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi, wished the people of the Republic of South Africa a peaceful and successful General Election on 8th May, 2019 and the special voting for South African citizens living abroad on 27th April 2019.”
Sisulu also met with her Botswana counterpart Unity Dow to discuss issues regarding Motsepe-Radebe’s alleged interference.
Dow said the visit by the South African Minister was testimony to the cordial relations between the two governments. She said her government would be investigating the allegations against Motsepe-Radebe with a view to taking necessary actions should there be evidence of any wrong doing.
Dow said a probe would also be launched on Batswana nationals alleged to have been colluding with Motsepe-Radebe with possible legal actions likely to be taken against the individuals.
The Sunday Standard has published a series of damning news articles linking the South African to an organized conspiracy to oust President Masisi and install former President, Khama’s preferred candidate Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi. The campaign eventually bore no fruit as Venson-Moitoi withdrew from the BDP presidential race citing irregularities in the preparations for the Special Congress, held in Kang on April 5, 2019. Masisi was consequently confirmed the Party President without contest.