The relationship between two powerful Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) stalwarts President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Cabinet member and secretary-general, Mpho Balopi has broken down irretrievably.
Mmegi has learnt that all is not well between the two that recently, Vice President and party chairperson, Slumber Tsogwane and a duo of party elders had reportedly met with Balopi to request him to step down.
Masisi is currently doing house-to-house campaigns after the Kgotla meetings he is holding.
Recently, some BDP councillors who support Balopi were suspended on charges of tarnishing the good name of the party.
However, it is not yet clear as to who will replace Balopi if he were to step down. Speculation is rife on social media that the party leadership wants to replace him with former Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Madigele.
On the other hand, Phakalane businessman, Lesang Magang has expressed interest in contesting for the BDP secretary-general position during the party’s yet to be scheduled congress. The President is said to have, “made it clear to the Vice President that he cannot work well with Balopi as secretary-general (SG) and he requested that he steps down so that someone could take the position while waiting for the party congress to choose a preferred candidate”.
The relationship between the President and party secretary-general turned sour since 2020 when Balopi was accused of being close to former president Ian Khama and also leaking BDP’s confidential information.
According to a source close to the developments, the secretary-general had agreed that he would resign from the position and had asked Masisi to think about it but promised that he would not take long. “The President has even informed the BDP central committee members on what is going on. Balopi was supposed to have resigned already, but it is not clear why he is taking long. Even some members of the Council of Elders are aware of the issue. The truth behind all these issues is that Balopi sometimes does not honour what the President says and again there is no longer trust between them. Politics is about trust, once it is gone then people have to part ways,” the source said.
Another source said Balopi has a strong relationship with some party structures and he is still consulting them secretly, something that could hurt the BDP seriously if the matter is not treated well.
“I think it is best for Balopi to resign because the environment is no longer conducive. We understand that the President told some central committee members that there are two Ministers who are not cooperating with him referring to Balopi and the Member of Parliament for Lobatse constituency and also Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development, Thapelo Matseka,” the source said.
When contacted for comment, BDP communication chairperson, Kagelelo Kentse declined to comment. “I cannot discuss party internal issues with the media,” was all what Kentse could say.
For his part, Balopi said it is not true that he was asked to resign and cannot comment much on the issue. Efforts to get hold of Matsheka were unsuccessful, as he was not answering his phone.