In a statement from his lawyers on Thursday, billionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe denied renewed allegations of trying to interfere with the politics of Botswana.
They said the magnate had not contributed a “single cent for political purposes” to influence the upcoming presidential elections in Botswana.
They repeated their position that reports in the Botswana press that Motsepe had allegedly pledged or smuggled in money or was involved in any way were defamatory and malicious.
Motsepe, they said, did not want to get involved, nor had any interest.
However, they did admit that a recent report in the Sunday Standard was accurate about the fact that Motsepe had met with former Botswana president Ian Khama, but claimed this was nothing more than a “courtesy meeting” at a hotel at OR Tambo International Airport, and that they had old family ties going back to a university friendship between Motsepe’s father and Khama’s father.
The Sunday Standard reported at the weekend that they were yet to be served with legal papers by Motsepe’s lawyers, but the statement added that Motsepe’s lawyers had travelled to Botswana this week to try to deal with the “disturbing and worrisome developments”.
Without mentioning Motsepe directly, EFF leader Julius Malema had on Sunday added weight to growing accusations against the family that they were involved in a “plot”.
He tweeted that he believed there was a “plot to remove the current Botswana government by some members of a powerful South African family” and promised to speak about it at his Youth Day rally next Sunday.
Botswana’s Sunday Standard last week faced threats of a multimillion-rand lawsuit against it from Motsepe after they had earlier published allegations that he was funding a faction in the Botswana Democratic Party to influence who would be the next president – allegations Motsepe strongly denied.
The newspaper had published an article on April 1 claiming that the billionaire and his sister, businesswoman Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe, donated 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”.
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.
Read the full statement below: