Focus on Africa: Zimbabwe 'foils plot' to unseat Botswana president

Aerial view of Botswana's capital Gaborone
Aerial view of Botswana's capital Gaborone CC / Wikimedia

Zimbabwe’s intelligence agency has disrupted a secret meeting of a faction from Botswana's ruling party aimed at bringing down their president Mokgweetsi Masisi, according Zimbabwe's state-owned Herald newspaper.


Zimbabwe's intelligence agency reportedly stopped former Botswana President Ian Khama and Pelonomi Moitoi, a key rival to incumbent Masisi, along with a South African tycoon, from holding a secret meeting at Victoria Falls border town.

Zimbabwe’s well-informed state-owned Herald reports that the South African billionaire was transporting a whopping 90 million Botswana Pula (5.5 million dollars).

TheSunday Standard of Botswana, which broke the news says it was able to track down the passengers of the chartered flight from Gaborone’s Lanseria Airport, where the chartered plane until its arrival at the Zimbabwean border town.

In Harare, the Herald reported that Pelonomi Moitoi, who plans to run for president with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, her delegation, and the South African tycoon Bridgette Motsepe (who turned out to be South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s sister-in-law) were detained and interrogated by Zimbabwean intelligence officers before being deported.

South African connection

“It’s likely that diplomatic immunity, friendship agreements and niceties among neighbours may have prevented the Zimbabwe security forces from seizing the money,” says Tichaona Zindoga, Editor of the state-owned Herald.

In an interview with RFI, Zindoga observed that the CIO had declined any comment about the real purpose of the meeting because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The publication’s editor went on to dismiss speculation that the group travelled to Victoria Falls to plan a military coup. “Money laundering, illegal funding, yes, not something so extremist,” he said.

Mokgweetsi Masisiet son épouse Neo Masisi, à Serowe, le 27 mars 2018.
Mokgweetsi Masisiet son épouse Neo Masisi, à Serowe, le 27 mars 2018. MONIRUL BHUIYAN / AFP



Tichoana Zindoga claims that while Ian Khama took to Facebook to discredit what he described as “shallow, shallow lies," he did admit taking part in the meeting with Pelonomi Moitoi, Kabelo Binns, founder of Botswana’s leading PR group and ex-Minister Daphne Kadiwa and axed intelligence chief Isaac Kgosi.

Drawn political daggers

Pelonomi Moitoi to stand in Botswana 2019 presidential elections
Pelonomi Moitoi to stand in Botswana 2019 presidential elections foreign ministry, Gaberone

Zindoga recalls that Khama retired last year, handing over power to Masisi. But he points to ruptures within the party which saw Khama wanting to retake control, leading Masisi to take drastic action against Khama and his cohorts.

The latest consequence of the factional fighting going on inside the ruling Botswana Democratic Party is that Khama is supporting the opposition at the expense of his successor, six months away from the October 2019 elections, according to the Zimbabwe Herald editor Tichoana Zindog


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