Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, Dumelang Saleshando has dismissed accusations that the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) is a tribal pressure group masquerading as a political party as frantic scare tactics employed by the party’s detractors who spend sleepless nights agonizing over its unprecedented growth.
Last week Bonnington South MP Botsalo Ntuane of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) said a motion tabled by legislator Gilson Saleshando, calling for the introduction of news broadcasts in other languages spoken in Botswana, was promulgating tribalism over nationalism.
Ntuane had previously opposed a motion calling for establishment of community radio stations ÔÇô a norm in the Southern African Development Community (SADC)ÔÇösaying such a move would ignite tribalism and civil unrest as it happened in Rwanda, when community radio station broadcasters incited attacks amongst tribal sects.
Saleshando dismissed Ntuane’s statement as an irrelevant scare tactic by a panic stricken BDP foot soldier who desperately wants to divert attention from the issue under discussion.
“BCP is not a tribal pressure group. Batswana are not so naive as to support a tribal grouping. We have parliamentary and council candidates in 55 constituencies in Botswana. Our competitors are running out of issues so they are using scare tactics. Our opponents are in panic mode,” said Saleshando at the close of the party’s extra-ordinary conference.
The BCP is banking on its popular growth of 11percent in 1999, 16percent in 2004 and 22percent in 2009 to deliver 29 constituencies in this coming general election.
“We have crossed the Rubicon. We started the race very strongly and we need to finish strongly. So let’s maintain the momentum in our campaigns because judgment day is coming and our opponents are running scared,” declared the BCP president, to rousing applause from members of the BCP.
The BCP has always advocated for introduction of mother tongue as a medium of instruction in schools. Saleshando said caution must be taken to ensure that no section or community is left out of the national education system on account of the language they speak. He said Article 30 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that no child should be denied the right to use his or her language. Further, the UNESCO Committee Report of 1953 states that the best medium for teaching a child is the mother tongue through which children understand better and express themselves freely.
Saleshando said the rights based approach to education implies that no child should be denied a chance to be educated in their language, irrespective of the costs associated with providing for mother tongue education.
“UNICEF contends that the cost of providing education in the language that learners are familiar with is much lower than the hidden costs that are associated with not providing for mother tongue instruction, such as high drop outs from schools, high failure rates and high illiteracy rates,” Saleshando said.
The extra-ordinary congress made key amendments to the party’s Constitution which will see Presidents of the Women’s League and the Youth League automatically becoming members of the Central Committee, with women enjoying 30percent representation in the Central Committee.
Saleshando told reporters that the BCP will petition parliament to push for the removal of Isaac Kgosi as head of the country’s intelligence organ – the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), amid a flurry of allegations of corruption, money laundering and abuse of office leveled against him.
“We are not saying Isaac Kgosi is guilty. We are simply saying Kgosi should resign to go and clear his name,” said Saleshando.