Saturday, June 15, 2024

‘Dums’ please stand for the BCP presidency

Events of the last days indicate that there are some people within the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) who are lobbying Dumelang Saleshando to stand for the BCP presidency in the party’s elective congress in July this year. ┬á
There is no doubt in our minds that BCP would be making a right decision by electing Dumelang Saleshando its president.

In my view Dumelang or Dums, as he is fondly known, is the best person at the moment to lead BCP, now that leaders such as Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang and Taolo Lucas have since told the nation that they won’t be standing for the BCP’s highest office.

 I must also add that it takes great courage for a leader like Dr Gobotswang to come out and tell the nation that he is not the right person at the moment to lead the party.

I have no doubt in my mind that the leader that Gobotswang has in mind is Dumelang Saleshando.

I am not a BCP member but for the last few months I came to like this party. The stability and level of professionalism within the party attracted me to it. I am a sympathiser who would want to see this party topple the ruling party in the future.

The party (BCP) comes across as the only alternative to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Now that the once formidable Botswana National Front (BNF) is fast losing its popularity, some of us are now turning to the BCP as our only hope.

I have never met Dums or discussed any issues of politics with him. I don’t know him at a personal level and he doesn’t know me at all. But Dumelang that I have seen in our television, read about in the local media, and heard about in our local radio stations is the right person to lead the BCP and this country in the near future. He is an intelligent and gifted politician. ┬á

Already cynics are already talking about how Dums is not yet ready to lead the party. Some say that it would be a strategic blunder since he is still young. I am so amazed by those who say Dums has to wait a little longer before he could lead BCP. The reasons that these prophets of doom and cynics are advancing are weak and are not supported by any empirical evidence that it is too soon for Dums to be the BCP president.  

This “Too soon theory” has been advanced before. We have heard it before and it has failed to put down good politicians. The same reason was advanced in 1959 when JF Kennedy first campaigned for US presidency. The Senator from Massachusetts Kennedy was said to be inexperienced and young to lead the United States of America. His republican opponent then Richard Nixon was said to be an experienced politician with impeccable credentials.

But the people were not fooled!
 Kennedy was later elected the US president at the age of 43. The same was said to Theodore Roosevelt in 1901 after the assassination of William McKinley. He went on to become the US president at the age of 42.

┬á‘Too soon theory’ failed to work last year when Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the USA in an electoral landslide. The world is awash with so many examples of such cases
I hear some people in corners saying Dumelang has not achieved a lot as a politician. Some say that he has to be tested for another 10 years before he could be afforded an opportunity to lead. But I want to differ with the cynics and the pessimists within and outside BCP and add that Dumelang has achieved a lot as a politician than most of politicians in this country.
Dums achievements are there for anyone to see. To the cynics I say to you, give me a name of an opposition politician (more so BCP) who has achieved more than Dums in parliament.

Dumelang is an investment and history has shown that electing young and intelligent leaders to lead politicians to lead political parties is the right thing to do. When Tony Blair was first elected to lead the British Labour party he was 41 years old two years older than Dumelang Saleshando now. Three years later he helped the British Labour party to topple the Tories (Conservative Party) leader John Major. Blair won the elections with a landslide.

┬áPrior to leading the party, the Labour Party had not been in power for close to 20 years. We all know that it was through his Charm and Charisma that the Labour party won three elections in succession. No wonder he was called the Great Communicator. There is no doubt that he made unpopular decisions as the British premier but h remains Labour party’s most successful leader and to certain extent the most loved.

 Am I implying that Dums is more like Tony Blair? Oh yes I am. Like Blair Dums is a good communicator, like Blair Dums is an orator, Like Blair Dums has the charm, like Blair Dums is educated, like Blair Dums has charisma, Like Blair Dums can lead his part and his country.  

I say to the cynics check out David Cameron, the lad was elected to lead the Tories (Conservative Party) at the age of 39 in 2005. He was the same age as Dums now. No one can argue with me that his energy has revived the Tories fortunes. He is widely tipped to win this year general elections.  

I now ask myself this question, why are some people thinking that Dums cannot emulate the likes of Cameron and Blair. The problem is that some people fear change. They want to keep on electing the same old faces. In my view he can even do better than them. Give Dums a chance. He has what it takes. What it takes to lead. 

I hear some people mentioning the names of Lepetu Setshwaelo and attorney Dick Bayford as other possible candidates. Setshwaelo and Bayford are respectable politicians. I strongly believe that they can serve in other capacities and leave the presidency to a more charismatic and energetic Dumelang.

┬áWe have people who are of the view that Dums cannot lead now because it would appear as if it’s a ‘family affair’. They say that the fact that his father is the BCP president automatically disqualifies him from leading the party, at least for now.

They says the saying “….ke ya rona le bana ba rona’ is likely to apply within the party as it does within the ruling BDP. Well I say to you Dums, you have nothing to worry about the issue. Some of us are prepared to defend you, in the bars, social gatherings, and other forums.

My own assessment is that Dums is his own man. Dums and his father are too different people. There are poles apart. Dums is in his own league. He is a brand.

Dums did not need his father like some politicians in other parties to be where he is. He is where he is now because of hard work. He worked hard to be where he is. Remember that in 2004 he won the elections in Gaborone Central and the father lost in Selibe Phikwe. His popularity far, I mean far exceeds that of his party or any politician in the BCP or any other opposition party.  

No one can argue with me that in parliament he distinguished himself as the most vibrant politician in the country. He was the BCP’s only parliamentarian in parliament and he single handedly kept the BCP fire burning in parliament. It has always been questions after questions, motions after motions. ┬á

It would be tragic if you decide not to stand. Some of us want you to stand. You are our only hope. I want to take this opportunity on behalf of Batswana, who do not have an opportunity to talk to you, that Dums, Please stand for the BCP Presidency.

Sello Roberts


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