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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.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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