Mpho Balopi finds himself with his hands full, a man of many positions and dozens of other things to do. To add to this plethora of portfolios and assignments, Balopi who is the Secretary General of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has been elected Gaborone North legislator.
As if that was not enough responsibilities, he has also made it into Cabinet as Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development. Due to several positions he holds, some members of his party doubt as to whether he will effectively carry out his BDP duties as Cabinet is demanding and he is also expected to make time for voters. In view of such sentiments, there have since been calls for Balopi to step down as BDP Secretary General as there is a lot of work to be done in preparing for the party elective congress slated for next year. However there are some who say Balopi has successfully helped the BDP to win elections and therefore there is no need for him to step down before the congress. Historically, the BDP has had Secretary Generals who also held Ministerial posts such as Daniel Kwelagobe. “I do not think his work will suffer especially at the party. Balopi is capable to handle both work and his position will help the party because he would know some issues better as a cabinet Minister. Of course during former President Ian Khama, the party felt that Ministers should not hold party positions but that thinking was later changed. I was a Minister and deputy secretary general, but my work did not suffer,” Deputy secretary general Shaw Kgathi said. He also explained that the party central committee would meet soon to decide on whether the elective congress be held next year. The deputy party secretary general said the elective congress was postponed because this year was the year of elections.
Meanwhile political analyst’ Professor Zibani Maundeni said; “Balopi’s role is more like that of the President. It will not be the first time for the BDP to have someone who is the secretary general and also a Cabinet minister at
Even if the BDP may go to its elective congress, I believe he will still retain the position if he contests. The BDP has done well in this elections under his leadership”. Another political analyst, Lesole Machacha said Balopi’s tasks are not difficult because his constituency is in Gaborone.
“If Balopi is taken out from the post, I think that will be suicidal for the BDP.
He can always employ a private secretary to help him manage his events and attend party matters and constituency ones together with ministerial duties.
It is important that he ensures that the regions exist so that they take care of all party structures so that they do not collapse. In his Ministry, the Permanent Secretary is the one who does most of the job and he could attend to things that are very serious or need his attention,” Machacha said.
Although he has been appointed the Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, some observers feel that this is a vote of no confidence in Mpho Balopi. They reasoned that Balopi who also doubled as the ruling party secretary general has been appointed to head a junior ministry and elbowed away from power.
“Balopi is the third most senior Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) member as the secretary general after President Mokgweetsi Masisi and chairperson Slumber Tsogwane. But Masisi’s best friend, Kagiso Mmusi who has been appointed the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security is the second powerful minister after Kabo Morwaeng who is the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration,” said an observer. There are rumours of fallout between Balopi, Masisi and Vice President Tsogwane.
Apparently, Balopi was shunted away from power to protect Tsogwane who is closer to Masisi. They also gave the thumps-up to Masisi for having appointed a well-balanced, youthful and well-read Cabinet ministers.