Saleshando walks tight political rope as BCP president and UDC vice-president

19 Apr 2018

Botswana Congress Party, a contracting member of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) on March 14 issued a political writ for its 2019 general election primaries which should have been concluded by end of June 2018. The writ notwithstanding, the party has however not yet made a public pronouncement on its leader’s envisaged constituency.

Frequently the question of which constituency the party president will contest is being asked by BCP members and the general public alike. Time may be running out for Saleshando to line up his troops and invade the constituency before it’s rather too late especially that the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has already identified its candidates for opposition held constituencies.

Political and social commentator Anthony Ndulamo Morima is adamant that Saleshando is still relevant in the Botswana political landscape because it is inconvertible as he was once one of the most influential politicians in the country. That he was a political firebrand is not in doubt.

According to Morima, Saleshando made his name when he was the only BCP Member of Parliament by setting the tone for parliamentary debates. It is because of his hard work that as a lone ranger in parliament he will forever be politically etched in Batswana’s memories for a long time.

Also, some Batswana believe that with BCP’s joining of the Umbrella for Democratic Change with him at the party helm, the opposition coalition stands a better chance to win the elections in 2019.

To remain politically relevant, Saleshando must through the media for instance, continuously talk about topical political and economic issues as canvassed in the BCP manifesto. Not only that, he should also attend key workshops and conferences to keep his fire burning.

Morima submits that as party president, Saleshando must without fail take charge of the BCP and ensure that the party remains true to its values, policies and programmes as espoused in the party constitution. Also, he has the duty of ensuring that the party’s elected representatives in Council and Parliament live the values of the party. He also shoulders the onerous responsibility to ensure discipline of all in the party.

To achieve the mammoth task, Saleshando should, in conduct, dress and speech, be the BCP’s flag bearer. He should be all that the party stands for.

It is equally imperative for him to win a parliament seat in 2019 to amplify his voice not only when he advocates for his constituency, but also when he addresses national issues both as Member of Parliament, and as member even chairperson of strategic parliamentary committees, especially the Public Accounts Committee. Every political party wants its leader to be an MP according to Morima.

On the question of whether Saleshando has so far reasonably delivered as both BCP president and UDC vice-president, Morima submits that one may say he has to a certain extent managed to have the BCP join the umbrella coalition and kept it (BCP) relatively united despite defections of such heavy weights as Thato Osupile, Lotty Manyepedza and Ditiro Majadibodu. As for the UDC vice-presidency, it is still too early to make judgement on his performance or lack of it.

“He has been an MP before, and was at one time Leader of the Opposition, but he did very well, asking a number of cardinal parliamentary questions and moving a number of motions. Also, because the UDC president is in the country most of the time, he is seldom required to perform the functions of UDC president".

Further, because the UDC and BCP are not in power, their activities are minimal, and the functions of the office bearers are not that taxing.

On how Saleshando should balance the duties of MP (assuming he wins a constituency in 2019), BCP leader as well UDC vice-president, Morima advises that the work of the constituency should come first, but knowing that for him to retain the constituency, both the BCP and the UDC should remain strong and that as party president and UDC vice-president, he is cardinal for such strength. It is a fine line. All the duties have to be efficiently done. Time management becomes of paramount essence.

As regards how what BCP ought to do to ensure that their leader wins his designated constituency in the 2019 general election, Morima submits that obviously they should campaign for him with all they have so that they increase his prospects of success. This will require mobilization of resources and canvassing for the values, policies and programmes that the party stands for.

As to how that role extends to other activists in the contracting member parties, the political commentator said the membership of the contracting parties, should in the inspirit of the cooperation between contracting parties, join BCP members in campaigning for Saleshando to win because his win will increase the UDC’s chances of winning the 2019 general election.

If elected to parliament, Saleshando must endeavour to balance the interests of his party (BCP) and the UDC on one hand. Most importantly, he should make the interests of his party subservient to those of the overarching one of ensuring the opposition coalition takes power from the ruling party.

“In doing this, his judgement should not be blinded by the BCP’s rivalry with the Botswana Movement for Democracy,” warns Morima.

The political commentator’s view is that doubling both duties as BCP president and UDC vice-president should not be deemed too cumbersome and overly demanding on one person because he is UDC vice-president by virtue of being BCP president.

Further, the UDC president is in the country most of the time, Saleshando is seldom required to perform the functions of UDC president. Also, because the BCP and UDC are not in power, their activities are minimal, and the functions for their office bearers are not that taxing. The fact that Saleshando is currently not a Member of Parliament also means he has "less on his plate".

In conclusion, Morima said “as party president, it would be ideal if Saleshando holds one of the constituencies in Gaborone to avoid a situation where he has to be often out of the city doing constituency work, reducing his time to deal with national issues and party work”.