20 February 2019

Botswana: Balopi Meets Khama

The relationship between former President Ian Khama and his former close ally, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Mpho Balopi, hit a rock bottom when Khama accused of him of being a liar and dishonest person.

This came after Balopi said former President Khama had resigned as the party president; something that Khama disputed.

During a press briefing after the recent Palapye retreat, Balopi informed the media that he was going to meet Khama to try and iron out their differences.

This week Balopi confirmed that the meeting has taken place at Khama's office but could not divulge more information on what they discussed.

"He informed me that some people came to him and said that I was tarnishing his name by speaking bad about him to President Mokgweetsi Masisi, something which is totally wrong," he said.

He disputed allegations doing rounds that he went to Khama to seek forgiveness but said it was just a meeting and nothing close to forgiveness.

"It has been a long time since I met former President Khama. We discussed various issues especially the nearly strained relationship, which as it turned out, was perpetuated by some people with ulterior motives," he revealed.

Resignation of ES

Recently the democrats were shocked when their Executive Secretary Merapelo Moloise tendered her resignation. The blame was put on the lap of Balopi, accusing him of firing those who don't agree with him.

"I don't hire and fire people at Tsholetsa House but rather oversee the administration of the office by virtue of being Secretary General together with my deputy Shaw Kgathi," he said.

Regarding the event that led to Moloise tendering his resignation, Balopi said the ES failed to notify members of the Central Committee about the meeting which was to be held at the party headquarters.

"We were 12 and we had to call others and the meeting started very late and is not true that it was postponed," he said, adding that even minutes were not provided at the meeting.

According to Balopi, it is the duty of the Executive Secretary to provide minutes of the previous meeting as she is the one who takes minutes during meetings. After the meeting, Balopi said Moloise came to him and apologised for what transpired and asked to be relieved from her duties as ES; something that he initially rejected but reluctantly accepted.

"She is still serving her one month notice and there is no bad blood between us as we are still on talking terms," she said.

Moloise is not the first ES to leave office under Balopi's leadership. The first ES to serve under Balopi was Thabo Masalila who left the job unceremoniously. Another ES who left office in 2014 under unclear circumstances is former scribe Sechele Sechele. Moloise succeeded Sechele.

"It is not unusual for the party to change office bearers. We have in the past survived an era that saw the frequent change of high ranking officials and officers in both party and government and we will survive now and in the future. BDP has very sound internal processes and platforms of dialogue that are responsible for its legendary strength," he reasoned.

Driving his point home, Balopi said under Khama the party had six secretary generals and that cannot be viewed as weak leadership but prevailing circumstances at the time.

When Khama assumed party leadership, the secretary general was Jacob Nkate followed by the late Gomolemo Motswaledi then Thato Kwerepe, Kentse Rammidi, Balopi in 2013 and Ntuane in 2015 and Balopi again in 2017.

Party's voters' roll

During the highly contested BDP primary elections some of the candidates who lost in the primaries especially incumbents accused Balopi of having a hand in their loss. He was accused with fiddling with the voters' roll in order to have those on his side win the primary elections.

"I am not in charge of the party's voters' roll but rather the Political Education Committee chaired by Alec Seametso. I don't have any influence on the outcome of the elections even the appeals," he defended himself.

He said the appeals are presided over by the Electoral Board which then submits their report to the Central Committee and decisions taken are collective.

The fall out with President Masisi

As the party prepares for their elective congress in July this year, there have been some suggestions that President Masisi is no longer comfortable with working with Balopi and prefers Botsalo Ntuane.

Asked about the alleged fall out, Balopi laughed it off and said that there is no such fall out as he still takes instructions from Masisi as his principal leader.

"Those who falsely paint a picture of a fall out, and whose intention is to sow seeds of discord, have nothing to support their claims. It is clear therefore that the sole purpose of such unfortunate acts is to tarnish my name and that of President Masisi and by extension, the name of the party as well," he said.


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