Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general, Mpho Balopi is reportedly securing greater support within influential structures of the ruling party for a bid to climb up the Cabinet ladder.
Authoritative sources told Mmegi this week that Balopi’s goal is to ultimately be vice presidency by 2024, which by law would set him up as the next president under the country’s automatic succession statutes.
Balopi was highly influential in delivering a resounding victory for the BDP and President Mokgweetsi Masisi, the two men seen as close allies in the new sphere of influence in the ruling party.
Of late, however, reports have emerged of a rift in between Masisi and Balopi, with speculation that Balopi was unimpressed with his appointment to a “junior” ministry. The Labour, Employment and Productivity minister has reportedly been lobbying to climb the ladder since then, putting him at odds with his boss.
In separate interviews this week, highly authoritative sources within the party told Mmegi that Balopi had garnered significant support from within the BDP’s upper echelons and even within Cabinet that could see his ambitions and plans through.
“The fight started when Balopi wanted the President to appoint him as Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration or as a Minister of Local Government and Rural Development. When the President told him that his demand is impossible, that injured the secretary general. This made him and some of his supporters feel that he is unwanted and he now plays as a victim. He has support of backbenchers, some Cabinet ministers and other disgruntled BDP members. It is clear that Balopi controls certain party structures and if he could be dropped from Cabinet as he is pushing it that way, he would be able to work the ground and get more popular,” the source said. Another source revealed that the dangerous part of the set-up is that Balopi does not
Still on the issue, Balopi’s supporters accuse some members of the communication committee for ‘feeding’ the President mistruths regarding other members. On the contrary, some are of the view that the Masisi camp has its preferred candidate for the vice presidency other than Balopi come 2024.
“It’s true, there is a misunderstanding between the President and Balopi which is caused by some party members who are close to the party President. What we used to criticise during former President Ian Khama time is now repeating itself where people could go and lie about others to the president. Again people who have been working hard for the party are being sidelined and the ones who are considered as “party lovers” are the ones coming from the opposition parties,” the source said. The source said they had realised that they are members who are being pushed out from party structures because there are certain things that they do not agree with in the party.
The BDP has postponed a party congress that was supposed to be held this year till further notice due to the COVID- 19 pandemic.
On the other hand, BDP spokesperson Kagelelo Kentse said the President and Balopi have a good relationship. “There is peace within the party. It should be clear that divisions are not allowed in the party and campaigns are not allowed in the name of the President,” Kentse said. Efforts to get comment from Balopi were unsuccessful, as he did not answer his phone.