Thapelo Olopeng, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development has dumped both his long-time girlfriend, Daphney Kadiwa and his former boss and State president, Ian Khama who was regarded as his close friend.
Khama and Olopeng, the two once bosom friends are no more. Olopeng decided to ditch his former boss following his [Khama’s] surprise intention to contest for Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) chairpersonship.
The Khama-Olopeng fallout has irretrievably strained Olopeng’s love affair with Kadiwa, the former chief of protocol for Khama administration.
Olopeng’s breakup with Kadiwa is however seen as a collateral damage as the minister shifted his allegiance to the new kingpin – President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Khama is the one who gave Olopeng his big break into politics. He was so close to Khama that their bromance became a subject of gossip columns in tabloid press.
Olopeng began appearing next to the president during trips clad in fishing jackets better known as ‘ESP-Jackets’ that were popularised by Khama. He was then identified as a businessman and a friend of the president - a 30-year-old closeness that began when the two met in the army.
Olopeng, who is a former soldier, was a regular at Mosu that he even had a cottage under his name at Khama’s holiday home. Both Khama and Olopeng even had matching yellow big quadbikes that they used to ride together at the Makgadikgadi Pans.
The two men’s mutual love for adventure was evident from their matching powerchute aircraft that they normally flew together during aviation events like the Race For Rhinos and Makgadikgadi Epic.
Olopeng and Khama used to travel places together. Olopeng used every chance to praise and defend Khama and his leadership styles, but that
Olopeng is now on the side of power as he is said to be fully behind President Masisi.
It is alleged that Olopeng has expressly made it clear that he would not support Khama if he could seek any position in the party in his retirement.
Olopeng is said to be looking at the bigger picture and positioning himself for the Vice Presidency.
According to multiple sources who were close to both Olopeng and Kadiwa, the main reason why DJ Tipps, as he is affectionately called, dumped his long time girlfriend is because he does not want to be associated with the Khama cabal anymore.
Mmegi has learnt that Kadiwa is now frustrated and out in the cold reportedly renting a house elsewhere in Gaborone.
“They [Olopeng and Khama] do not travel together or call each other anymore. That is why even this week he wanted to know why the leader of the opposition has started talking to Khama and speaks for Kgosi [former Director General Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Isaac Kgosi],” said a source.
“His ex-girlfriend was admitted in South Africa where she had an operation but the Minister never bothered to even check up on her,” continued the source.
For her part Kadiwa said, “It is true we broke up but I cannot discuss my private life with the media”. For several days Mmegi has been trying to contact Olopeng but he did not pick up the phone nor return the calls.