'Outrageous' - Botswana dismisses ex-president Khama's claims of an assassination plot

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Ian Khama claims there is a plot to kill him.
Ian Khama claims there is a plot to kill him.
PHOTO: Ron Sachs-Pool, Getty Images
  • Botswana's government says former president Ian Khama is lying about the existence of a plot to kill him.
  • The government says Khama's allegations are soiling the country's reputation regionally and internationally.
  • It says no one is above the law, and President Mokgweetsi Masisi is not linked to Khama's alleged crimes.

The government of Botswana has dismissed as "outrageous" claims by former president Ian Khama that his family is under siege and there's a plot to assassinate him.

Khama, who left Botswana in November 2021, is in South Africa. He previously said he didn't flee the country and was attending to personal matters. He recently spoke to the SABC and opened up about his claims against his country's government.

In the interview, he said his family had become the subject of victimisation in Botswana and faced trumped-up charges from a hostile President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

He said:

I put him (Masisi) there. I was very foolish. I made a mistake and I apologised to the nation.

When Khama attended the funeral of former Zambian president Rupiah Banda in March, he said - in an apparent reference to Masisi - that "some politicians are not nice" and added that he was being persecuted in Botswana. Masisi did not attend the Banda funeral.

Masisi has responded to Khama through acting permanent secretary for government communications John-Thomas Dipowe.

"The narrative that the former president and his family members are being persecuted is devoid of any truth," Dipowe said in a statement.

Last week, Bangwato regent Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane was suspended pending investigations into allegations of convening village kgotla meetings in Serowe to discuss issues pertaining to Khama and his family.

Dipowe said it was "outrageous" that Khama even claimed that there was an assassination plot against him. He added that Khama's allegations had given Botswana a bad image.

He said:

The government, therefore, wishes to underscore that the misinformation by former president Khama stands to tarnish Botswana's image and her relations with her neighbours, the African continent as well as the international community at large.

Since leaving Botswana, Khama has been in South Africa, and travelled to Zimbabwe, Zambia and most recently Eswatini.

Khama, along with three others, is charged with 14 counts of illegal possession of firearms in a historical case which could lead to a former head of state of Botswana being jailed.

In the statement, Dipowe said no one in Botswana was above the law and, like any other citizen, Khama should answer to the charges levelled against him.

While Khama always insisted that he was being politically persecuted, Dipowe said Masisi had nothing to do with the charges.

"The independent arm of the state that handles such matters is the judiciary, and there's no way His Excellency the President can interfere with a legal process that is under way, as the former president alleges," Dipowe added.

According to Dipowe, they "are hopeful that this matter can be settled through astute investment in constant dialogue".

In Southern Africa, former heads of state such as Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, his successor Frederick Chiluba, Malawi's Joyce Banda, the Democratic Republic of Congo's Joseph Kabila, and Jacob Zuma have had to answer for alleged crimes.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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