‘We was not invited’


When diplomats and Batswana from across the country converged on former Vice President Mompati Merafhe’s homestead in Serowe over the weekend to pay their last respects to the departed statesman, the BCP shunned the event because the party expected an invite

FRANCISTOWN: As hundreds of people, among them diplomats and senior members of opposition parties converged in Serowe on Saturday for the funeral of former Vice President Mompati Merafhe, leaders of The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) were conspicuously absent. They have a simple answer for their absence: the state had not invited them.

BCP secretary general Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang told Mmegi yesterday they felt their president Dumelang Saleshando, should have been officially invited, as Merafhe’s was a state funeral. 

“It was a state funeral. Usually an invitation is extended to various individuals or organisations like parties to attend a state funeral. This is what we believe should have been done by government. There is a protocol that has to be followed at a state funeral and we should have been invited so that we attended the funeral knowing the protocol,” he said.

“Our president also had engagements and maybe he would have delegated someone to attend the funeral on his behalf if he was invited,” said Gobotswang, adding that even some other party leaders also had some engagements and they could not have attended the funeral.

It has become customary world wide for party leaders to attend funerals of a departed statesman but none of the BCP leaders were present in Serowe.

The leaders of the main opposition party, Umbrella for Democratic Change, among them the youthful mayor of Gaborone, Kagiso Thutlwe, were at the funeral. Also in attendance was UDC spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa, who noted that invitations to a funeral were unnecessary.

“The president Duma Boko could not have attended the funeral, even if he was on the programme because he had other commitments. This is why he visited the Merafhe family last week Tuesday to convey his and the party’s condolences,” said Mohwasa.

He further stated that, the “Merafhe family was also informed that Boko won’t be able to attend the funeral due to other commitments. If the rest of the party leadership were not committed, they would have attended the funeral.

Some of the party members were in attendance”. The UDC spokesperson said that it was unheard of in Setswana culture that anybody had to be invited to a funeral.

“So invitation to the funeral was of no significance. It was a question of whether one had time to go and pay his/her last respects to Rre Merafhe,” Mohwasa added. 

The same sentiments were shared by government spokesperson Jeff Ramsay, who said that there was no need to send invitations to the funeral to anyone.

“Those who came to the funeral came on their own. Even those who were coming outside the country. For some diplomats we did some arrangements for them to go to the funeral but we did not invite them.

It is not Setswana custom for someone to be invited to a funeral,” explained Ramsay. He further explained the government’s role at the funeral was to provide logistics.

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