Take a few diplomats, an assortment of billionaires, and some grand accusations of stolen government funds, and you end up with one hell of a political headache. Cyril Ramaphosa has been dragged into the Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe scandal, after a scheduled political meeting with officials from Botswana was canceled.
Who is Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe?
Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe, an influential businesswoman and wife of ANC stalwart Jeff Radebe, has been slapped with travel restrictions to our northerly neighbour. Usually, no South African would need a visa to cross the border into Botswana – but last year, that requirement was put in place especially for her.
As the sister of Cyril Ramaphosa’s wife and also a sibling of the dollar-billionaire Patrice Motsepe, her dubious relationship with the bordering country has become a national talking point.
Botswana’s beef with the Ramaphosa’s sister in law
She is currently implicated in a multi-billion rand money laundering case in Botswana. Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe was named as a co-signatory in two South African bank accounts holding more than $10 billion (R170 billion).
This money was allegedly stolen from the Botswana government, but the accused has challenged the nation to supply proof of their accusations. Last week, Botswana officials hired Gerrie Nel to take this issue to DIRCO.
Cyril Ramaphosa and the Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe scandal
On Tuesday, Ramaphosa was accused of sending a “special envoy” through to Botswana to discuss matters relating to Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe. This sparked a number of theories suggesting that the president was trying to stop his sister-in-law from facing any legal action. The presidency, however, firmly denied this.
“The Presidency wishes to draw attention to a false report by online news service, Daily Maverick, which has distorted the purpose of a planned visit to Botswana today [Tuesday, 30 June 2020] by Minister of State Security Ayanda Dlodlo,”
“Regrettably, it was alleged the visit by the Special Envoy was to centre on developments between the Botswana government and South African businesswoman Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe.
“This is completely false, as President Ramaphosa has clearly mandated the Minister of State Security to engage on matters related to the Southern African Customs Union.”
The planned meeting has since been scrapped, creating further diplomatic tension between Pretoria and Gaborone. Ramaphosa, somewhat inadvertently, has found himself in the middle of diplomatic storm.