The Minister of Education and Skills Development, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, has stated that she would under no circumstances discuss President Ian Khama with strangers because he is not only President but also her ‘chief’.
As pressure begins to mount following shocking revelations from Wikileaks cables released last week, top Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) politicians’ views about Khama while he was Vice President, claim the Wikileaks reports are untrue.
According to the cable, Jacob Nkate, cabinet minister Pelonomi Venson-Motoi and Assistant minister Botlogile Tshireletso expressed misgivings about a Khama Presidency about 5 years ago when they met with the then American Ambassador Joseph Huggins.
However, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi is scornful and dismissive of Wikileaks reports. She is alleged to have told Huggins that Khama does not tolerate dissent and that during Mogae’s reign as President no one except Mogae dared to question Khama.
“I don’t recall having a discussion of any value with that Huggins,” says Venson-Moitoi.
She added that she does not even know when Huggins was in Botswana.
“I don’t discuss my head of state with strangers and besides that he is my Chief….am very careful when talking to strangers, I don’t understand what they are talking about,” she said in defence.
In a separate interview, Tshireletso also denies ever having a conversation with Huggins. The cable claims that Tshireletso told Huggins that VP Khama roped his ‘bootlickers’ on to Festus Mogae’s cabinet.
“I have never met that man nor was I ever invited to any event where he was present,” she said with fury. “This whole Wikileaks thing is nothing but a pack of lies because, truly speaking, I don’t know that man,” she stated.
For his part, Nkate, a former minister and the ruling party’s ex- secretary general, is quoted as having told Huggins that Khama was unfit to be Head of State.
Nkate is said to have expressed strong reservations about Ian Khama’s appreciation of Economics and other development related issues.
However, in an interview with the Sunday Standard this week, Nkate declined to comment.
“I have no recollection about a conversation I had with people 7 years ago if at all I did say that,” said Nkate.
He, however, would not dismiss the possibility of having met Huggins.
“He was someone that interacted with a lot of people from government and I might have met him,” said Nkate.