Southern Africa: I Met Khama As a Friend, Not As SADC Chair - Geingob

THE meeting between president Hage Geingob and the former president of Botswana Seretse Khama Ian Khama earlier this month, was a conversation between friends and not a Southern Africa Development Community mediation mission.

Press secretary in the Office of the President, Alfredo Hengari said this in a media statement on Wednesday in response to speculations that Geingob's visit to Botswana at the beginning of February was to intervene in a political crisis in that country.

"The Presidency emphasises that the meeting with Khama was neither an official SADC mission, nor a mediation effort where the offices of the SADC chair were deployed or mobilised on any matter," the statement reads.

It further explained that Geingob undertook, in his capacity as SADC chairperson, a familiarisation visit to the SADC secretariat in Gaborone.

In addition to interactions with the leadership and staff of the secretariat, Geingob paid a visit to the president of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi.

It went on to say that in respect of the relevant procedures on protocol, Geingob reportedly requested to have private meetings with his friends, the former presidents of Botswana, Khama and Festus Gontebanye Mogae, outside the formal programme.

Mogae was reported to have been out of town, leaving Geingob with an option of meeting Khama on 02 February during which they among other issues discussed political developments in Botswana.

The objective, according to the statement, was not mediation with a view to seeking solutions, but conversation between friends.

Geingob's position on developments in Botswana according to the statement is that: "There is no crisis in Botswana. There is no need for the SADC chair to intervene. Botswana is the oldest multiparty democracy in Africa and has enjoyed decades of political stability and progress."

Khama and Masisi are reported to have fallen out after Khama reportedly declared his support for former foreign minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi to challenge Masisi for the presidency of the Botswana Democratic Party.

- Nampa

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