Cabinet Minister and legislator for Gaborone North constituency, Mpho Balopi is under pressure from his family and suffering business empire to resign from both Parliament and Cabinet, Mmegi has learnt.
According to an authoritative source, the family believes that his businesses are suffering and that he has little time for the family.
Balopi’s poor health has also seen him step aside temporarily from political office and his other portfolio, the Ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, as part of his battle towards recovery.
Balopi, the Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) second longest serving secretary general after former MP Daniel Kwelagobe, is regarded as wielding influence in the ongoing power struggles at the helm of the ruling party.
The factional infighting has reportedly spilt over into Cabinet, with Balopi seen as either a show-runner or a kingmaker in the battles.
He was behind strategies to ensure that President Mokgweetsi Masisi wins the party chairpersonship in 2015, and the presidency in 2019. Now, sources say he has reportedly fallen out with his leader.
As secretary general, Balopi is also saddled with the huge responsibility of leading the ruling party’s secretariat which is the engine of the party and its main administrative machinery.
Mmegi is informed that the party is engaged in negotiations with Balopi to persuade him not to resign from active politics. The party believes that the Gaborone North parliamentary seat, which Balopi wrestled from the opposition, might not be easy to win again, should he resign.
“His businesses are not doing well because his focus is on politics which is not bringing enough money to the family as compared to his businesses,” insiders said.
“Balopi was doing well as a businessman, but politics is now also taking his time from the family.
Meanwhile, politics does not bring things that people could make positive noise about; instead it brings criticism to the family.
“Cabinet requires one to work hard to ensure that government policies are implemented while the party secretary general position also needs more time.
“During election or campaign preparations, he was hardly home because he had to ensure that the party was well represented.”
Another source said the party believes that Balopi could still deliver effectively in the portfolios he holds even though he is also unwell.
Within the party, some believe that the secretary general cannot dump the BDP at such a critical time when it needs him the most. Masisi, recently launched the party’s “RESET agenda” aimed at regaining public goodwill as Batswana have increasingly grown frustrated with poor service delivery, allegations of engrained self-enrichment and corruption as well as weak project implementation.
This week, BDP spokesperson Kagelelo Kentse told Mmegi that there was no change in Balopi’s positions within the party. “Balopi is still our MP, secretary general and Minister.
If there was any family meeting, which could have advised that, we are not yet privy to the details. Balopi is on sick-leave.
He has not been attending political activities including the (recent) retreat. We wish him a speedy recovery so that he could come back and continue with his duties.
He will be the one to make a decision or share with the party after he has recovered.”
Efforts to reach Balopi were futile as his mobile contacts were not available. Even the party spokesperson highlighted that Balopi has been off air for sometime now.