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Voting under way in Botswana

However, South Africa, which was drawn into the fall-out between that country's former President Ian Khama and his successor Mokgweetsi Masisi during campaigning, may only breathe a sigh of relief when counting is done.

Voting opened on Wednesday in Botswana for a hotly contested general election. Picture: Nthakoana Ngatane/EWN.

GAROBONE - Calm has finally returned to Botswana as voting is under way on Wednesday.

The country will see 1.2 million Batswana cast their votes for the national Parliament and local government councils.

Chief information officer Osupile Morobe said: “It's all systems go. All polling stations have received sensitive material, ballot papers... Immediately after closing, we will do ballot verification.”

However, South Africa, which was drawn into the fall-out between that country's former President Ian Khama and his successor Mokgweetsi Masisi during campaigning, may only breathe a sigh of relief when counting is done.

More than once, President Cyril Ramaphosa had to ease tensions as the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was said to have had knowledge of a coup plot.

And then later, Ramaphosa's sister-in-law Bridgette Radebe was implicated in attempts to unseat Masisi.

Relations between the two countries may need to be refreshed once the new Botswana administration has been installed.

Ramaphosa was Southern African Development Community chair when Khama handed power over to Masisi and he commended Botswana for the smooth process.

But little did he know that within a year, South Africa would be drawn-in as the relationship between Masisi and Khama quickly turned sour.

Botswana media reported that the army was on high alert after receiving a tip-off from the SANDF that some military elements were plotting a coup

But the SANDF issued a statement condemning the reports and saying it never had knowledge of a coup.

The most embarrassing moment, however, may have been the release of a telephone conversation between former Energy Minister Jeff Radebe's wife Bridgette in which she was discussing a plan to discredit and overthrow Masisi.

Botswana slapped her with a travel ban that would require her to obtain a visa to visit that country.

Although South Africa never admitted to engaging Botswana on the issue, Botswana confirmed that Ramaphosa dispatched former International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to re-assure Masisi that his government had no hand in those plans.

Since then, Botswana media have reported that Bridgette and Khama were having an affair that led to her husband instituting legal action against Khama but none of the parties have confirmed or denied the news.

Now that the fierce contest for the new Botswana government is over, South Africa may have to press restart on relations with the new administration that voters are electing on Wednesday.

The results should be known by Friday.

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