Former assistant health minister, and popular Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) politician, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri, affectionately called GUS, is late.
Matlhabaphiri is reported to have collapsed at a pharmacy at Fairgrounds Mall yesterday afternoon, apparently having gone there to seek medical assistance.
Doctors certified him dead on arrival at a hospital he was taken to upon collapsing. Matlhabaphiri’s death was confirmed by a close relative who preferred anonymity, as the matter was still fresh.
At the time of going to press, the family was yet to meet and release an official statement.
“Yes, it’s true he is late. We just received the sad news here in Molepolole from Gaborone.
"He is alleged to have collapsed, rushed to the hospital where the doctors certified him dead on arrival at the hospital. This is as far as I can comment,” a relative said without elaborating.
Reached for comment, BDP secretary general, Mpho Balopi could not confirm Matlhabaphiri’s passing to Mmegi, stating that he did not receive official confirmation, but only heard the news informally.
“I just heard the rumours, but cannot confirm if they are true or not. In our Setswana, we cannot just confirm such news without a confirmation from the family,” Balopi said.
“In our culture,
Matlhabaphiri began his politics as a grassroots activist at University of Botswana (UB) in the 1970s when it was anathema for varsity students to associate with the BDP.
He served most of the years as a specially elected Member of Parliament, until he won the Molepolole South in 2009.
He lost the constituency to Mohammed Khan of the Umbrella for Democratic Change in 2014. Early this year, he contested and won BDP’s primary election, otherwise known as Bulela Ditswe.
He was popularly known in the BDP circles and was an influential member of the Barata-phathi, which broke from the BDP to form the Botswana Movement for Democracy.
He has served in many BDP structures, including as a member of the Political, Education and Elections Committee.
Matlhabaphiri has served in the diplomatic corps, serving as Botswana’s High Commissioner to Namibia in the early 2000s before returning to active politics.