On Tuesday politicians and captains of industry converged at Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC) to witness the launching of former Vice President, the late Lieutenant General Mompati Merafhe’s book, The General, in service of my country.
Speaking at the launch, the late General Merafhe’s son Odirile Merafhe described his father as a strict father who wanted the best for them. He said his father protected them and didn’t want them to join politics as he felt it was a dirty game, hence they are not actively involved in partisan politics. However, the young Merafhe said in 1992, his father brought them life membership cards of BDP as he showed off his to the dignitaries that included President Ian Khama and former president Sir Ketumile Masire.
Merafhe who is the founding commander of Botswana Defence Force (BDF) joined politics in 1989 as specially elected members of parliament. His entry into politics has been said to have given birth to Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) factions where he led one while his political enemies led another. In the book, however, Merafhe defended himself saying that he and Kwelagobe were not architectures of BDP factions citing one of Sir Seretse Khama’s addresses to the party faithful cautioning them against factions in 1976. “In the waning years of Seretse’s rule, the powder keg was laid. In the Masire’s dispensation, the fuse was lit and a conflagration ensued,” reads part of his book.
Giving a keynote address at the event, President Khama said he admired Merafhe who was his commander at the BDF. He described him as a great soldier who became a great politician.
In the book, Merafhe said that he was facing a hostile opposition as he defended President Khama as his Vice President and accused the opposition MPs as ignorant. In particular he took a swipe at Botswana Congress Party (BCP) President Dumelang Saleshando and his father Gilson Saleshando.
Odirile Merafhe denied allegations that the book has been edited after his father's death to remove content deemed offensive saying it has been published the way his father wanted it to be.There are allegations that General Merafhe’s book has been edited removing some of the issues that might ruffle feathers within the ruling party and in government. “A lot has been removed because, his children felt that it was not putting some party elders whom he clashed with in good light hence it was edited,” said the source.
Odirile Merafhe said; “this is a wonderful book which depicts the history of this country and his life written with honesty and dedication and is also diplomatic”.
Asked if he will join active politics, Odirile Merafhe said that one needs not to be a politician to contribute to the development of his country. “We have contributed immensely to this country in the private sector and will continue doing that,” said the young Merafhe who is the Chief Executive Officer of New African Property.