Malema promises to speak about ‘powerful SA family’ in Botswana ‘plot’ against government

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema speaks at a press conference, 16 May 2019, in Braamfontein. Picture: Michel Bega

The EFF leader is once again involving himself in the politics of SA’s diamond-rich northern neighbour.

EFF leader Julius Malema on Sunday added weight to growing accusations against the Motsepe family that they have been involved in the politics of Botswana’s ruling party.

It’s not yet known what Malema will say, except that his tweet on Sunday suggested he believes there is a “plot to remove the current Botswana government by some members of a powerful South African family”. He said he would speak about it at his Youth Day rally next Sunday.

Some would say the wheel has come full circle, as Malema was ejected from the ANC, along with other ANC Youth League members, in part for comments that were construed at the time as calling for regime change in Botswana. He was also slapped with restrictions to his ability to visit Botswana.

Botswana’s Sunday Standard this week faced threats of a multimillion-rand lawsuit against it from South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe after they had earlier published allegations that Motsepe was funding a faction in the Botswana Democratic Party to influence who would be the next president – allegations that Motsepe strongly denies.

The newspaper had published an article on April 1 claiming that the billionaire and his sister, businesswoman Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe, donated or perhaps had pledged to donate R22 million to Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s campaign.

Venson-Moitoi is an ally of former president Ian Khama, who is challenging Mokgweetsi Masisi for the party’s presidency.

Motsepe’s sister subsequently had restrictions placed on her passport by the Botswana government, and now needs a visa if she wants to visit her mining interests in the country.

After initially withdrawing their claims against the billionaire, the newspaper in its latest issue doubled down, with yet another front-page article alleging that Motsepe had pledged money to “oust Masisi”. Malema also retweeted a screenshot of the Sunday Standard’s front page today.

Motsepe last month secured a temporary interdict preventing Black First Land First (BLF) and its leader Andile Mngxitama from accusing him of involvement in plotting a coup in Botswana.

At a press conference last month, the BLF leader had accused Bridgette Radebe-Motsepe of attempting to influence the politics in Botswana’s ruling party.

Motsepe then took issue with Mngxitama having alleged that his sister had ambitions to take over the diamond industry in Botswana and that she and Motsepe had together been involved in an alleged plot in the country to that end.

Motsepe’s lawyers, however, said: “These remarks are all untruthful.”

They added that Mngxitama’s comments were injurious to their client’s dignity, were offensive, derogatory, hurtful, and exposed their client to general disesteem and ill-will.

The case concluded with Judge Thifhelimbilu Mudau ruling that Mngxitama and the party should cease to make accusations about Motsepe, which Mngxitama had mostly based on the report in the Sunday Standard, and that they should remove all their published statements about it.

It’s understood that Motsepe is still looking to make the interdict permanent, and may sue for damages.

Mngxitama today took to Facebook to post further comments about the matter, however, writing: “Did you know that the current president of Botswana, Dr Masisi, is involved in a bitter battle with De Beers over the Botswana diamonds? Did you know De Beers is an Oppenheimer operation? And who is friends with the Oppenheimers? Do you get it why Patrice Motsepe may be funding regime change in Botswana? Take it back home; do you remember who marched against Zuma? Well, Sipho Pityana is an Oppenheimer man chairing one of its operations … and who is family friends of Motsepe?”

When asked if his comment was not possibly a violation of the court interdict, Mngxitama said: “Read in context, no. I’m not accusing him. I’m merely commenting on what the media is reporting, and the media is showing strongly that we didn’t lie or deliberately want to harm Motsepe.”

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