WINDHOEK – The recent private meeting between President Hage Geingob and former Botswana President Ian Khama in Gaborone was a conversation between friends, the presidency said yesterday.
Press secretary in the Namibian presidency Dr Alfredo Hengari says the meeting, which Khama was quoted to have attributed to his running feud with his predecessor, President Mokgweetsi Masisi, was not a Sadc mediation mission. The meeting took place while President Geingob, who is current chairperson of Sadc, was on a familiarisation visit to the regional bloc’s secretariat in Gaborone. “In addition to interactions with the leadership and staff of the Sadc Secretariat, President Geingob paid a courtesy visit on the President of the Republic of Botswana, His Excellency Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi,” said Hengari.
“Respecting relevant procedures on protocol, President Geingob requested to have, outside the formal programme, private meetings with his friends, the former presidents of the Republic of Botswana, Excellencies Festus Gontebanye Mogae and Lieutenant General Ian Serêtsê Khama,” he further explained.
“Due to the unavailability of President Mogae, who was out of town, President Geingob met on 2 February 2019 with President Ian Khama. It is correct to state that in addition to other topics under conversation, the two leaders discussed political developments in the Republic of Botswana.”
“However, the objective was not mediation with the view to seeking solutions, but a conversation between friends,” the press secretary continued.
Hengari, in a statement issued yesterday, quoted Geingob as saying: “There is no crisis in Botswana. There is no need for the Sadc Chair to intervene. Botswana is the oldest multiparty democracy in Africa, and has enjoyed decades of political stability and progress.”
South African newspaper City Press reported last weekend that Khama said he was invited to attend a meeting at Sadc headquarters.
“He asked to see me so I can give my side of the story,” Khama was said to have remarked.
“He expressed concern as a neighbour, as the chairman of the Sadc and as the president in the region. He expressed concern [about Botswana] precisely because of what we have been saying: that this is not what we expect of Botswana.
“I feel guilty because I am caught right in the middle of this ongoing problem, after having tried to move Botswana up the ladder in all areas. Now to have this thing, this burden...”
Khama and Masisi have been bickering since last year. One of the biggest signs of the fallout was when Khama announced his support for a rival candidate vying for the presidency of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) elective congress scheduled for this July. It is the first time since independence in 1966 that a BDP leader has faced a challenge. Long-serving cabinet minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi declared her intention to take over from Masisi on 19 December 2018. Masisi immediately dropped her from his Cabinet.
2019-03-14 09:48:18 12 days ago