The opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP) President Dumelang Saleshando has encouraged the party’s parliamentary hopefuls to make an all out effort to ensure party members register to vote at the upcoming general elections. “A small percentage of our members actually get to register to vote,” he made this observation while officially opening a workshop for the party’s parliamentary candidates for the upcoming general elections at Tlotlo conference centre on Friday. The workshop has been organised in collaboration with the British Labour Party and is sponsored by the Westminster Foundation for democracy. Drawing from past election results, the party leader has confidence that his party can successfully unseat the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Saleshando said that his party’s performance in previous general elections since its formation in 1998 has always been promising. He declared that this year’s campaign would for his party be the year of a grand campaign that could eventually usher the party into government. Saleshando said that the turn out for this year’s polls will determine whether the party is appealing or showing decline in support. He said in its first participation at the polls the party got 11% and scored 21% of the total vote in the last general elections. According to Saleshando, his party is optimistic that with the right campaign strategy it is possible to emerge victorious in October.
“We have to seriously access and agree on what role candidates should play on polling day,” he told the assemblage made up of the party’s parliamentary hopefuls from different parts of the country. He said work-shopping candidates on campaign tactics is key to the BCP’s campaign trail. Saleshando said that there is a need for the party to campaign as a collective instead of selling individuals. “We are not a coalition of Independent candidates…we are a party and therefore have to campaign as a team.
We have to have a common plan,” he said. Saleshando said that the party is also hoping to use the experience from the British Labour Party to address some of the party’s deficiencies. Noting for example the challenges politicians often face when quizzed by the media. He said politicians are subjected to great scrutiny by the press and often times have very little time to provide a coordinated response especially during live Television and radio interviews. The party has said that it will train candidates on essentials like using social media, conducting effective interviews and how best to package their message to the electorate.