It is still too early to say, but from the look of things, the brewing fallout between Mpho Balopi and Samson Moyo-Guma promises to count among the country’s cattiest political feuds ever.
Mpho Balopi is the Botswana Democratic Party Secretary General.
Samson Moyo-Guma is a ranking BDP Member of Parliament and former National Chairman.
He was forced to resign the position of Chairman by then president Ian Khama ÔÇô for him a painful decision that in the end pitted him on a rollercoaster-like fight with the Khama dynasty.
Balopi and Moyo-Guma men have a history of personal and commercial affinities, having started a weekly newspaper together a few years ago, before going separate ways.
This week Moyo-Guma confirmed to Sunday Standard that a stream of emissaries have been filing into his residence, there to persuade him to stand for the position of BDP Secretary General at the party’s elective a Congress due next year. He has not made a decision yet, but is clear from his tone that he feels flattered.
If the contest between Balopi and Moyo-Guma ultimately happens, as it looks increasingly ever more likely, it will be a mouth-watering political encounter.
Already there are signs that the fight will be bitter, catty and bitchy.
It will be about control of the BDP soul, with one eye certainly rained on the ultimate prize ÔÇô the presidency.
“Yes, it is true that I have been lobbied. Scores of BDP activists have insisted I should stand. I have no way of stopping them from saying out their wishes. Honestly I do not want to talk about this anymore than just what I have told you. But I know you can get, the drift,” said Moyo-Guma when asked by Sunday Standard.
A lack of eagerness on Moyo-Guma’s part to engage with Sunday Standard on the matter belies what BDP key activists say has been frenetic activities behind the scenes by those rooting for him to put their ducks in a row well ahead of time.
They say since two months ago, Moyo-Guma has been fired up, and in their view spoiling for a fight.
The two months cut off time being bandied about is instructive.
It neatly coincides with the ascendance of Mokgweetsi Masisi as President.
When Masisi ascended, something big in Moyo-Guma’s life happened, or to put it more precise, did not happen.
He failed to make a cut into cabinet.
“For someone who saw himself as a Vice President in the making being left out in the cold has shattered his life,” said Moyo-Guma’s close ally. “Up to now he is still unable to fully account to us his associates why he is not in cabinet.”
Even more hurtful to Moyo-Guma is the fact that he was overlooked for the position of BDP national Chairman.
That position went to Slumber Tsogwane ÔÇô by all accounts a reluctant politician.
The denial has really gnawed at Moyo-Guma.
In his search for answers to account for the snub, it turns out that he identified Mpho Balopi, a constant presence on the side of President Masisi.
And he is now taking aim at Mpho Balopi.
Balopi dismisses perceptions that he has been responsible for casting Moyo-Guma out of Masisi’s inner circle as hogwash.
“That is an insult to the Head of State. The President knows who he wants to appoint. And no amount of influence can sway his away from something he believes is right.”
He says if Moyo-Guma decides to stand as Secretary General that will still be part of his democratic right as a BDP member.
But where did the cracks between him and Moyo-Guma begin to show?
“I was never close to him. We were never friends. I only knew him through Thapelo Olopeng with whom they were business partners at the time. Together with others they joined me after I had established a newspaper. I left them because the paper no longer represented the vision I had for it. In Maun it just happened that I was campaigning for position of Secretary General and him for Chairman,” said Balopi.
But will he be ready to defend his position against the looming attack from Moyo-Guma?
It is clear that Mpho Balopi is not about to turn another cheek in the face of what he perceives as unprovoked attacks.
“I am only serving the current President. Whether or not I continue in this position will be determined by him, by time and by the moment ÔÇô especially by the President. I have no problem with people nudging Moyo-Guma to stand. I suppose that is based on their evaluations. But I have a serious problem with him or his supporters saying I am responsible for him not being appointed to cabinet,” said Mpho Balopi.
Moyo-Guma likes a fight, and looks like he will be the first to draw blood.
Already there are quite a few scalps under his belt.
At his finest fighting mood he took the Khamas head-on and won.
The common understanding was that he was fighting on behalf of Mokgweetsi Masisi who the Khamas had started hatching a plot to derail his ascendance into the presidency.
Moyo-Guma’s favorite target was Tshekedi Khama who at the time had political ambitions to succeed his elder brother as President of the republic.
Rightly or wrongly, Moyo-Guma’s admirers perceive him being left out of cabinet as the final insult ÔÇô an unpardonable betrayal on the part of those on whose behalf he soiled his hands to save.