Bridgette Radebe, South African businesswoman and president of the South African Mining Development Association, has been implicated in Botswana’s succession politics after details emerged that an alleged meeting between her and former president Ian Khama at Victoria Falls had been intercepted.
Daily Maverick reports that Botswana’s Sunday Standard recently published a story claiming that Radebe and her businessman brother, Patrice Motsepe, were funding the campaign of former foreign minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi to the tune of millions of rand.
Venson-Moitoi is facing up against President Mokgweetsi Masisi for the role of leader in the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
As former vice-president, Masisi took over as president from Ian Khama after Khama’s 10-year presidential term came to an end a year ago, but Khama has openly stated his support for Venson-Moitoi.
Venson-Moitoi shared her intention to face off against Masisi for BDP leadership in a tweet she posted last December, however, it was Masisi who emerged victorious the past weekend after he was elected unopposed during a BDP special congress in Kang in the Kgalagadi District on April 5.
According to the initial Sunday Standard report, Radebe, together with Zimbabwean MP Samson Guma Moyo and Botswana-based Prevailing Securities MD Shadrack Baaitse, was supposed to meet with Khama and a delegation at Vic Falls on the north-western border of Zimbabwe and not far from the Botswana border last Saturday.
“They were allegedly supposed to hand him $5.5 million (almost R80 million) in cash that he was supposed to smuggle into Botswana to fund Venson-Moitoi’s campaign,” reports Daily Maverick.
Radebe and her companions were later allegedly detained and interrogated by Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation, who intercepted the transaction following a tip-off.
Radebe reportedly flew to Zimbabwe in a private jet out of Lanseria Airport and Zimbabwean officials were unable to search said jet so they had to let her go.
On Thursday, Khama took to Facebook, posting a long statement to deny the allegations of meeting with Radebe in order to facilitate the transaction.
RESPONSE TO SUNDAY STANDARD NEWSPAPER ARTICLE TITLED “NEW JERUSALEM VIC FALLS SECRET MEETING SCUTTLED”It seems as if…
“This visit was not a secret mission as the Zimbabwean government had been notified. Upon arrival at the Victoria Falls, former president Khama and his entourage were received by protocol arranged by the host country. Former president Khama’s entourage did not include Honorable Pelonomi Venson Moitoi, Kabelo Binns, and Colonel Isaac Kgosi as alleged. Never at any point was there any discussion or consideration of smuggling money into Botswana. Former president Khama is not a smuggler and has no intentions to venture into the underworld,” read part of the statement.
Neither Radebe nor her husband has responded to phone calls or messages regarding the reports.
Presidential spokesperson Khusela Sangoni, ANC spokesperson Dakota Legoete, and head of the international relations subcommittee Lindiwe Zulu have commented on the story to date.