The President of Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Dumelang Saleshando has expressed sadness over the demise of All Party Conference which existed during the tenure of the late President Sir Ketumile Masire. Through the All Party Conference political parties would congregate and sit around the table to reflect collectively on steps that needed to be taken to enrich the country’s democracy.
Speaking during the BCP Annual Conference held in Francistown last week he said such a noble iniatiative was not convened to comply with the requirements of any law, but was an assembly of patriots who held divergent political views.
“These patriots who traded political blows during election campaigns, understood that the long term political interest of the country required them to periodically set aside their narrow partisan differences and together share ideas and what new interventions will make the country’s democracy stronger,” he said
He said the conference touched on important issues such as the extension of the franchise to Batswana residing in foreign countries, reduction of the voting age to 18 as well as establishment of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) which were thoroughly debated through this conference before being introduced. He said the reality today is that the tradition of dialogue amongst political opponents is all but dead and buried.
“In the eyes of the new BDP as the late Rre Rra Gaone would prefer to call it, taking side of an opposition party renders one unpatriotic. The charge that one loses their status as a patriot when they criticize the ruling party has been made by President Khama on numerous occasions, the most recent being his address to the BDP Congress held last week in Tonota,” he said.
Saleshando said one of the hallmarks of the Khama’s presidency is the transformation of the country’s united nation into a society of rivals. He said politicians no longer dialogue across the political divide. He also said workers particularly in the public sector do not have avenues for constructive engagement with the employer as they are branded anarchists who do not have the interests of the nation at heart.
“The Judiciary has not known no peace with suspensions of judges and police investigations that can only be averted through apologies to the President. The ethical conduct of medical personnel has been compromised through promulgation of policies geared at discriminating patients on account of their lifestyle,” he added.
He emphasized that it is through the love of the country that BCP decided to join other opposition parties in the Umbrella Movement for Democracy (UDC). He said when they criticize government policies and sometimes march against the government, or challenge certain decisions in the courts of law, they do so in exercise of their patriotic duty to safeguard the nations interests against abuse by the current government.
“When we speak against corruption and report acts of corruption to bodies such as the DCEC, we do this as patriots who wish to protect public goods against leaders who are driven by greed. Ignoring the ills that our nation faces and behaving like brainless singers does not make one a patriot as claimed by President Khama,” he said.