• BDP SG always on Masisi's entourage
• BDP worried about decline in popularity
• 'We are the ruling party, we have to be close to Govt'- Balopi
Questions have been raised about the constant appearance of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Mpho Balopi alongside President Mokgweetsi Masisi when travelling locally and internationally on official business.
The main question is in what capacity is the BDP chief scribe appearing on state visits accompanying President Masisi because he is neither a civil servant nor a Government official. Some within the BDP have confessed being surprised at the turn of events because it has never been the culture inside the party.
Defending the development Balopi said contrary to tradition within the BDP where the Secretary General was isolated from Government, it is of cardinal importance that the ruling party leadership is involved in the day to day running of the country.
Past BDP Secretary Generals include the late Sir Ketumile Masire, Daniel Kwelagobe and Jacob Nkate who were all cabinet ministers. Thereafter the late Gomolemo Motswaledi, Thato Kwerepe, Kentse Rammidi, Balopi and Botsalo Ntuane were not cabinet ministers and were hardly ever on the presidential entourage on local and international trips.
“At the beginning our secretary generals were always Members of Parliament and cabinet ministers. As such, they sat on cabinet meetings. Later on from the late Gomolemo Motswaledi to myself, we were neither MPs nor cabinet ministers. Hence, it is very important that we are actively involved in Government to ensure that what we promised Batswana when we were voted into power is being implemented,” he said.
Balopi attributed BDP’s poor performance in 2014 General Elections to their isolation from the central government as they were not in charge but had left everything to the technocrats. He said Masisi suggested that he should accompany him in most of the international trips as most of the countries that he has visited are led by liberation movements with whom they have bilateral relations. The only country that Balopi did not accompany President Masisi to was eSwatini because they do not have multi-party democracy. On who is footing the bill, Balopi said that the party takes care of the bills except transportation which is provided by the state.
Asked if his involvement in the running of the country is part of the reforms that were proposed by former Secretary General Ntuane, Balopi answered in the negative, saying that they are merely doing what is right.
“As the ruling party we have to understand our foreign and economic policies and be actively involved to ensure that our promises to the electorates are fulfilled,” he said.
Notwithstanding Balopi's confidence about accompanying Masisi, the development has ruffled some feathers with some senior party members complaining that they were never consulted about the move. “We don’t know if it is part of implementing reforms suggested by Ntuane that we should be part of decision making at Central government,” said a senior BDP member. Although they are surprised by the development some are saying it is a good move by the party and President Masisi.