Thite’s head stands tall ahead of other candidates to replace Balopi

  • No more anticipated head tumbling cabinet reshuffle
  • Gare and Manake not going anywhere

GP Weekly Reporter

Fresh intelligence sniffing on government enclave and BDP insiders suggest that Gantsi North John Thite is one of the top favorites of President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his top advisers to replace former labour minister Mpho Balopi.

Gaborone North MP Mpho Balopi on 2021 Christmas Eve resigned from cabinet as Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development. Balopi is the pioneer of this ministry which was one of the new ministries coming with the Masisi administration.  

Balopi exclusively told GP Weekly after his resignation that he is now putting his weight on the party and doing his Secretary General duties while much concentration will be on his constituency work at Gaborone North.

However, some party insiders believe Balopi is concentrating in consolidating his position as SG on the yet to be announced party congress and some even think he is aiming at becoming party chairman. Balopi was non-committal when asked about such intentions. Some also believe Balopi has aspirations of being vice president and eventually taking over Masisi when he steps down. Some intelligence sources also claim to have intercepted information that Balopi is being “sponsored” by opposition in a plot to undermine or oust Masisi from inside, something the BDP SG refuted.

The main interest now gathered from government enclave, the intelligence community, the opposition, business community, labour movements and the BDP is; who will replace Balopi?

The name Thite often pops up than any of his colleagues recently and speculation is rife that this could be Masisi’s conclusion. Masisi may be having a headache as there are some being pushed or lobbied by the business community to him, while intelligence seems to be suggesting other names. The Directorate of Intelligence is known to be at force with recommendations while political interests on the other hand may be competing with it.

“In the intelligence community, there will be affirmation of one’s allegiance to Masisi or the regime given the several threats of a ‘coup’ and this is due diligence seen vital. It is not going to be an ordinary name,” said a source.

Some sources inside Tsholetsa House believe Thite is much more “calmer” and “qualified” to be a minister. They also believe he does not look “overly ambitious and is less of a threat.” This source disqualified the vocal Nata Gweta MP Polson Majaga and the social media darling who is also seen as outspoken at parliament, Kanye North MP Thapelo Letsholo.

Another factor to be Balopi’s replacement is Shoshong legislator Aubrey Lesaso. Some believe for him to quit UDC, he was promised a ministerial position in return. Some even alleged Balopi was made to jump to make way for Lesaso as he is seen as an unwanted man by Masisi.

Majaga and Letsholo remains the social media favorites, but intelligence sniffing intercepted recently is that Thite has an upper hand. Inside Tsholetsa and from government advisers, it was warned that Masisi must avoid division at all cost by making Lesaso a minister because he just joined the party. Some believe a constituency is worth nothing compared to the blood, sweat and tears which fell from those who helped Masisi win in 2019. But many will be up for a serious shock, says a source who used to be close to Masisi administration.

While Masisi believes there is a need for “reset” and rigorous transformation by government, especially starting with cabinet, he does not want to rock the boat too much by a cabinet reshuffle which many anticipates and some think it is imminent. On the other news, minister of agriculture Karabo Gare who has been on sick leave was seen to be on his way out of cabinet and his assistant Beauty Manake who has been acting for him before going on leave too, get to keep their ministerial positions. Gare has been back at work since Monday and was in good health according to him.

Farmers at Gantsi and the whole Kgalagadi region has been said to have summoned Gare on a lot of issues and were handled by Thite well and they have since preferred the latter to take over from the former if a vacancy opens. But the ministry will remain on Gare’s hands given he is not reshuffked to another cabinet position.

Tati West MP Simon Moabi is one of those said to be up for a cabinet position as he is seen to be Masisi’s blue eyed boy.  But sources believe he will only hold a junior position at any ministry where an opening will be made for him. A rigorous reshuffle is being proposed by some in Masisi camp and it is believed minister of local government is idea to take ministry of labour while other will be filled in. Most at government enclave claim to be in the dark with regard to a cabinet reshuffle. But the intelligence community and BDP insiders believe in February this year Balopi will have found a replacement.   

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