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Balopi goes for jugular in BDP succession battle

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Mpho Balopi is fighting to position himself as the frontrunner in the presidential succession plan that is already playing within the party.

The battle came to the fore after it became apparent that the party Secretary General has lost the support of President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, therefore falling down the pecking order in the latter’s succession plans. According to party insiders, at least five individuals are considered frontrunners ahead of Balopi in the succession plan. The incumbent Vice President Slumber Tsogwane is expected to retire from politics at the end of his current term, creating an opportunity for Masisi — if he wins second term — to choose his successor.

Frontrunners include Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Kagiso Mmusi; Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng; Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Lemogang Kwape, and Minister of Finance and Economic Development Dr Thapelo Matsheka. This publication has established that this weekend Balopi had initiated a meeting at Manong Game Reserve along Lobatse. It is alleged that the agenda of the meeting was to establish ways to abet Sadique Kebonang to reclaim his seat as Member of Parliament (MP) for Lobatse constituency in the next elections.

Amongst those who attended the meeting was former Lobatse Town Mayor Malebogo Kruger, Alec Seametso, Collen Mochotlhi and Goitse Phorie. WeekendPost is privy to names of BDP activist who attended the meeting, including two Central Committee members. Reliable sources have disclosed to this publication the secretive meeting shocked the Chairman of the party Slumber Tsogwane who later reported the incident to the President.

“The President was not happy at all, in fact he feels Balopi is trying by all means to provoke him. Balopi has said on numerous occasions that he made Masisi what he is today, something that does not sit well with the President,” said the source. The current MP for Lobatse constituency is Dr Thapelo Matsheka, who is also Minister of Finance and Economic Development. It is alleged that the BDP Secretary General has waged a robust war against the quartet of Morwaeng, Dr Kwape, Mmusi and Dr Matsheka, mainly targeting their constituencies.

Balopi is believed to have deployed people in these constituencies to work against these Ministers with the hope that they lose primary elections in 2023. “If they lose it will be a big win for him as he will stand out as the most possible choice post the current Slumber Tsogwane,” argued the source.   A reliable source to this publication has also revealed that Balopi has already placed Jeffrey Sibisibi, who is a former Council Chairman of Kweneng District to challenge Morwaeng in the 2023 party primary elections and has since dispensed resources within the constituency to hit the ground running.

News reaching this publication is that initially Balopi had not been a part of Masisi’s cabinet plans and was only added a day before swearing in when other party advisors cautioned Masisi that it might cause conflicts within the party.
 It is purported that Balopi is currently awake to the fact that democrats no longer want him as the SG of the party. Sources have disclosed that there are lingering suspicions that despite this, Balopi is trying to hold onto the position including postponing the July congress or declaring it as non-elective, disregarding a resolution taken in Kang last year.

“Balopi has given up on SG position, now targeting Chairmanship of the party and is hopeful for the VP post,” said a source. Amongst all these, Balopi is said to be amongst those who are trying to rope in the former President Ian Khama back into the party.  Khama has reportedly been approached by party elders, proposing for a resolution between him and his successor. However, it is said that Masisi is not yet ready to forgive Khama. Reliable sources have revealed that some of the party elders and those close to Khama have advised him to go public about his apology to map a way forward.

Masisi is reportedly drawing up his own succession plan on who could be his substantive assistant and ultimately President in 2028, and the name of Gabane-Mmankgodi MP Mmusi is leading the pack. Mmusi is the son to former Vice President, Peter Mmusi and he is said to be in the President’s good books. In fact, it is said, Masisi and Mmusi have always been ‘buddies’, something which the parliamentary hopeful vehemently denies. “He is my boss not my friend,” Mmusi stressed in an interview with this publication in the past.

Factions are already looming in the BDP, some vouching for Khama’s big comeback. In January this publication reported that Masisi has broken rank with his ally, Balopi. The members of the Central Committee (CC) are also alleged to be against Balopi remaining in the same position. A close source to this publication articulated that Masisi believes that the reason why the party is in “shambles” is because of Balopi, who he says has deeply divided the party over the years.

Moreover, Balopi is reported to be still working with former President Ian Khama, which does not sit well with President Masisi. Reports from sources say that Balopi justifies his relation by saying that he and Khama have known each other from time immemorial and he is what he is because of Khama.  Balopi first became the party SG at the time when Khama was leading the party. As it is, Balopi is the third most senior member of the party, coming after Masisi and Tsogwane.

However Mmusi, who is Masisi’s ally has been given Ministry of Defence Justice and Security, which is the second senior after that of Morwaeng, Balopi has read malice from that. While Balopi is third in command at party level, his rivals; Morwaeng and Mmusi hold senior and influential ministerial posts.  In the build up to the elections when the Vice President Slumber Tsogwane was de-campaigned by Khama, there was pessimism within the party that Tsogwane will retain the Boteti West Constituency.

By then the party’s top brass had a contingency plan and Balopi’s name was mentioned on numerous occasions to Masisi in case Tsogwane lost. Ever since his fortunes changed, Balopi has been working overtime to de-campaign Morwaeng in Molepolole South constituency for the 2024 General elections.  He is alleged to be against the appointment of Morwaeng at the ministry and feels betrayed by Masisi.


BOMRA wins legal battle to ban Malaysian product

29th September 2020

High Court in Botswana has dismissed with costs an application by AG Nutrition Botswana to allow it to sell its Malaysian products in the country.

“In the result, the application stands to be and is hereby dismissed with costs,” Justice Abednego Tafa ruled this week.

The networking company had sought court to interdict the Botswana Medicines Regulatory Authority (BOMRA) from refusing AG Cera products entry into the country.

The product is described as ‘Natures gifts for optimal health’ with high antioxidants, skin protection, anti-cancer, cardiovascular, supports bone and joint health, anti-inflammatory, lowers sugar levels and said to be improving general health.’

BOMRA had cautioned that since the product was food and not medicine, the distributors should avoid making medicinal claims in advertising the product.

This was after BOMRA officials had taken the product from the deponent saying they had tested it and established that it is food.

AG Nutrition also sought court to order and direct that BOMRA, or any person acting through it and/or in concert with it, be interdicted from refusing the AG Cera products entry into Botswana.

They also sought relief for court to order that the AG Cera product that is currently seized at the behest of BOMRA be forthwith released to AG Nutrition in Botswana.

They had also wanted court to rule that BOMRA pay costs of the application.

The applicant on the matter, AG Nutrition is anchored on the founding affidavit of one Mokganedi Ketlhoilwe, the Managing Director of AG Nutrition.

According to the deponent to the founding affidavit, AG Nutrition has, since October 2019, been importing the product subject matter hereof.

He alleges further that at some point upon arrival of the product at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, he was invited by Ministry of Health and Wellness officials for product assessment.

The assessment said conclusion was the product “AG Cera” was food and BOMRA has no jurisdiction over it but no evidence has been proffered to prove the allegation.

According to AG Nutrition, BOMRA officials came across flyers of people who bought the product from AG Nutrition for reselling as the business is a networking business. The flyers purported that the product cures certain medical conditions.

BOMRA makes it clear that; “importation of the product by AG Nutrition was illegal and it should not have been allowed entry into the country. The officials at the point of entry are not employees of BOMRA but of BURS and Ministry of Health and Wellness. They have no power to assess and determine a product as food or medicine. Such powers are statutorily conferred on BOMRA only.”

BOMRA’s mandate is to ensure that all medicines and related substances used in Botswana are in conformity with established criteria of quality, safety and efficacy and uphold standards for the regulatory functions value chain and ensure adherence to best practice.

They also conduct tests and analysis of medicines and inspection of privately-owned laboratories to ensure good laboratory practice as the cornerstone of compliance as well as; ensuring the safety of cosmetics and medical devices that is, ascertaining that cosmetics and medical devices companies follow regulations to keep cosmetics and personal care products as safe as possible.

Justice Tafa highlighted in the judgement that it is common cause that AG Nutrition sells or distributes the product to the public and that the product is yet to be registered.

As a matter of fact he said that it is common cause that AG Nutrition has applied for registration of the product and BOMRA has made it abundantly clear to AG Nutrition that the product is not to be imported into the country pending the determination of the application for registration.

“It would be improper, in my view, for the court once it has found that the product falls within the definition of medicines, to order the release and further importation sale and/distribution of the product pending its registration,” he pointed out.

He also stated that he is fully cognisant of the financial harm that AG Nutrition is likely to suffer while the registration process is ongoing. “However, in all circumstances, any harm AG Nutrition might suffer as a result of the enforcement of the Act is outweighed by the public interest and interests of BOMRA.”

‘‘I say this knowing very well that AG Nutrition made an undertaking to not advertise the product as containing medicinal benefits and even toned down on its claims in subsequent flyers,’’ Justice Tafa observed.

The Judge said however the bottom line is that its earlier claims have not been retracted and the public out there still believes that the product can cure ailments such as cancer and fibroids.

In the matter, Uyapo Ndadi of Ndadi Law Firm represented AG Nutrition Botswana (Pty) Ltd while Daniel Swabi of Osei-Ofei Swabi and company stood in for Botswana Medicine Regulatory Authority (BOMRA).

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Masisi adopts Khama anti-poaching strategy

29th September 2020

Following unprecedented rise in poaching incidents in Botswana, President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s administration is considering re-arming the Wildlife Anti-poaching Unit.

The decision comes following the President’s contentious directive to dis-arm the wildlife department shortly after assuming the presidency two years ago.

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BCP demands ‘Democratisation’ of UDC

29th September 2020

Members of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent parties especially from Botswana Congress Party (BCP), have called on the leadership to hasten the “Democratisation of UDC” by adopting reforms and the new constitution.

A number of BCP MPs have expressed their displeasure with the transitional constitution and therefore want the NEC to put pedal to the metal and accelerate implementation of a democratic constitution which was agreed by congress in 2018.

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