Two of the most senior members of the opposition Botswana Congress Party have indicated that they will not be contesting for the position of party president ahead of the July congress later this year, sparking fears that the party might be headed for a power vacuum.
BCP President Gil Saleshando has for a long time indicated that he has done all what he can for the party, and will not be seeking re-election at the July congress. His announcement sparked speculation that his second in command, University of Botswana lecturer Kesitegile Gobotswang, was being primed to take the reins. Gobotswang has for a long time been a leading figure in the BCP and it was widely believed that he would succeed Saleshando.
But he put an end to the speculation on Monday when, in a letter to The Telegraph, he stated in no uncertain terms that he will not be standing for the BCP Presidency at the July congress.
“Contrary to recent media speculation, I will not be available to contest the position of Party President at the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) July Congress later this year. I strongly feel it will not be in the interest of the party to do so,” said Gobotswang.
BCP Secretary General Taolo Lucas has also indicated that he will not be standing for the presidency.
“I will not be contesting for the presidency,” said Lucas. “I will serve the party in any other capacity,” he said.
Gobotswang, however, said that he will be available to contest for any other position within the party. He added that the BCP is a fast growing and evolving party that operates with a serious intention of offering Batswana an alternative government, and therefore needs a full-time president who will avail all his time and resources to this cause.
“We need a tested fulltime politician to drive this process; a leader who can be trusted to undertake such a heavy responsibility. We are also working in anticipation that the National Constitution will be reviewed to accommodate direct election of the Head of State. For this reason, we need a leader who has the will and courage to present a formidable challenge to candidates from other parties, including Ian Khama from the ruling party,” said Gobotswang.
At the moment, all fingers point to BCP’s Secretary for Information and Publicity, Dumelang Saleshando, as the only possible and credible successor. But the younger Saleshando was non-committal, only saying that for now he is limited as far as he still has to consult party structures.
He, however, made it clear that he will not be contesting for his present position, fuelling speculation that he might seek a position that is more senior and carries more clout, like the presidency.
While many believe that Saleshando is the most probable candidate, Gobotswang was quick to point out that the BCP has within its ranks able and capable members who can carry the party forward.