Motsepe’s lawyers head to Botswana to address political meddling claims

Last week, the founder and chairman of African Rainbow Minerals took legal action against a Botswana-based publication, demanding R6.7 million in damages after it ran a story on the allegation.

FILE: Patrice Motsepe. Picture: GovernmentZA/Flickr.

JOHANNESBURG - South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe’s lawyers have travelled to Botswana to address allegations that he meddled in the neighbouring country's politics.

Last week, the founder and chairman of African Rainbow Minerals took legal action against a Botswana-based publication, demanding R6.7 million in damages after it ran a story on the allegation.

It was claimed that Motsepe donated R22 million to Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s campaign to influence the outcome of Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) elective conference held last month.

Two months ago, Botswana’s government slapped South African businesswoman and Motsepe’s sister Bridgette Radebe with travel restrictions after accusing her of being involved in the same campaign.

In a statement issued on Motsepe’s behalf on Thursday afternoon by African Rainbow Minerals, the billionaire slammed the claims levelled against him as false and defamatory.

He stated that he had no interest in the politics of Botswana and its political parties.

“Dr Patrice Motsepe did not pay or contribute a single cent for political purposes or in connection with the upcoming presidential elections in Botswana.

“The allegations that he pledged R22m [alone] to any political party or persons, or that he was involved in or was party to smuggling money into Botswana are absolutely false,” the statement from the company read.

“These false and defamatory allegations gave rise to the legal action that was recently initiated in Botswana. We do not want to get involved, and have no interests, in the politics of Botswana or the development of any political party.”

However, Motsepe confirmed that he met former Botswana President Ian Khama during his recent visit to Johannesburg and described the former statesman as an old family friend.

Khama supported Venson-Moitoi in her bid to oust president Mokgweetsi Masisi as leader of BDP. He even resigned from the party, which his father founded in 1961, over what he said was poor leadership by Masisi.

Khama stepped down as president of Botswana last year after 10 years.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)