The infighting within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has deteriorated from ideological differences to physical confrontations, with the latest victim and target being party Secretary General Mpho Balopi.
Motorists along the A1 highway were treated to a live circus during the week when they found some unidentified individuals vandalising campaign billboards bearing the potraits of Balopi and President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Strangely the portrait of Balopi is the only one that was defaced with paint and torn apart, something that has shocked him. “I know as politicians we can differ on various issues but didn’t expect that it will go this far. I am really shocked as this is an act of criminality,” said Balopi, adding that he suspects it was done by some people within his party.
“You have to know we are in politics, when you do well for the party you annoy others within the party. That’s why we go for internal elections, for democrats to vote. I believe ultimately democrats will judge them for who they are. As you know yourself I was born a democrat and am still one today. I won’t shy away from responsibility neither will I jump ship. I remain prepared to ensure President Masisi takes the party to the 2019 elections with my support and I remain loyal to him. As I said I served former President for six years. It is up to the democrats to decide my tenure,” Balopi poured his heart out.
“If someone can vandalize artwork in a billboard which is 5 meters high then one has to ponder and yonder about his safety,” said the worried BDP chief scribe.
Asked if he knows those who could have vandalized the billboard, Balopi said they are still doing investigations on who is behind the act. But is you read all false accusations that have been laid against me on the media including those written by some democrats then the people are not difficult to identify.
Recently former President Ian Khama came out with guns blazing accusing Balopi of bad mouthing him to President Masisi and vowed that he will make sure he doesn’t win 2019 Parliamentary election. Khama said that Balopi sees himself as the next Vice President and ultimately the President of the country something which he said will be just a pie in the sky.
Khama even visited residents of Gaborone North accompanied by the area MP Haskins Nkaigwa, something that was viewed as a way of decampaigning Balopi.
Asked if former President Khama is indeed decampaigning him to ensure he looses the 2019 quest to become MP for Gaborone North, Balopi was very diplomatic in his response. “I am the only person who has served 6 years as SG during the presidency of Khama as such I regard him as my elder, leader and mentor and don’t believe he can do those things,” he said maintaining that he holds Khama in high regard as a party elder.
He said that if he has the ambition of becoming the next first citizen of the country, he could have long accepted former President Khama’s nomination to become a specially elected MP in 2014 but said he declined in order to focus on his businesses.
When President Masisi assumed office and started his international trips, Balopi always accompanied him. At the time he defended the move saying it is because he is the Secretary General of the ruling party. "In the beginning our Secretary Generals were always Members of Parliament and cabinet ministers. As such, they sat in cabinet meetings. Later on from the late Gomolemo Motswaledi, 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 when interviewed early this year.
Lately, Balopi has not featured in Masisi's entourage on international trips, which fuelled speculation doing rounds that the two have fallen out. “Currently I am pushing for voter registration in Gaborone North constituency where I am the party’s parliamentary candidate, hence I don’t feature prominently on President Masisi’s state visits,” he said rebutting allegations that there is a fallout between him and Masisi.
He denied accusations that he had anything to do with the suspension of Mogoditshane 2019 candidate Tshephang Mabaila.