Last week Wednesday, Namibian President Hage G. Geingob, who is also the Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), issued a press statement through his press secretary, Alfred Tjirurimo Hengari, explaining his recent meeting with former president, Seretse Khama Ian Khama.
Asked about Geingob’s need to clarify his meeting through a press statement, Hengari explained to this publication that, “The Presidency, in the interest of transparency and accountability felt that it was necessary to set the record straight in light of media reports that sought to highlight the nature of the meeting as a SADC Mediation mission on the part of President Hage G. Geingob. We wish to emphasize that President Geingob met with President Ian S Khama as a friend.”
Hengari maintained that the SADC Chairperson was not pressured by any individual to clarify, “but subsequent to media reports that sought to say that President Geingob met with President Ian Khama in his capacity as SADC Chair, the need arose on the part of the Presidency to provide information about a meeting that was private and between friends.”
Of late the international media has been depicting the conflict between Botswana’s sitting president, Mokgweesti Masisi and Khama as a leadership crisis.
But after meeting the two parties, Geingob wrote in a press statement that, “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.”
Geingob visited Gaborone on February 1-2, 2019 and he says that was a familiarization visit to Gaborone, Botswana, which is the secretariat of SADC.
In addition to interactions with the leadership and staff of SADC, Geingob paid a courtesy visit to state president, Masisi.
Following that, he requested to meet the two former presidents; Khama and Festus Mogae.
However he could not meet Mogae because at the time, he was out of town.
Interestingly, Namibia’s office of the president showed interest in previous interviews which this publication did with Mogae.
They wanted this publication to aunthenticate an article titled “Khama is a divisive character-Mogae,” a suggestion that Geingob is paying closer attention to the alleged “crisis.”
In about three weeks time, Masisi will be facing a presidential challenge against former cabinet minister, Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi.
Moitoi enjoys the backing of former president, Khama, who has openly expressed his dissatisfaction with Masisi.
On the other hand Masisi is seemingly enjoying the backing of many if not majority of the ruling party’s regional committees and leadership.
Botswana has no direct elections of the president and constitutionally, the president of the ruling party, automatically becomes the state president. After a ten-year term, which often comes to an end a year before general elections, the vice president automatically succeeds presidency.