There was a time not so long ago when Gil Saleshando embodied and stood for everything that was against the project of opposition unity in Botswana.
He keenly hated and despised the main opposition BNF and made no attempt to apologise for it.
His unrivalled contempt for other opposition parties made him a symbol of everything that was immature about all of the country’s opposition parties.
He came across as intolerant and relished the frequent bouts of mud wrestling between the fragmented opposition parties.
Clearly, the BNF split that brought about his own BCP had caused the man much pain and anguish that he seemed totally unable to get over.
However hard he tried it, Saleshando could not bring himself to forgive his former comrades who, by now, he had grown to look down as political delinquents.
The unhelpful attitude of the BNF at the failed negotiations only served to reinforce and prove right his mantra that the country’s main opposition was irredeemably unreliable, even dishonourable and unruly.
As late as this week, he was still accusing them of “attempted coup.”
Of course, to the BNF, Gil Saleshando and his BCP have been a sickening nuisance because of their endless blame-game.
Having resisted opposition unity for sometime, Saleshando has now undergone a total reversion of his position.
While in the past he did little to contest BNF story line that he was the stumbling block to opposition unity that seems to be changing.
Using the Biblical analogy of Saul becoming Paul, Saleshando has come into the open to pronounce himself a “convert.”
He is now deploying an unprecedented chutzpah to get as many smaller opposition parties under control as is possible.
All the change of heart notwithstanding, he has still not entirely forgiven his chief nemesis: the BNF.
He still thinks the BNF should be punished for bad behaviour at the negotiations.
His enduring difficulties were still clear this week as he signed a new pact that brought another new member (BAM) under his control.
Yet to be fair, by making far reaching concessions to the little BAM, not to speak of moderating his aversion towards opposition unity, Saleshando has effectively demonstrated an amazing attachment to reality: that fragmented opposition in Botswana (and not the BDP popularity) is actually responsible for the ruling party’s continued stay in power.
This development alone has injected an interesting twist to Botswana’s politics.
We are going through a tilt in the balance of power.
All of a sudden, the BCP sees itself as a contender for power.
Not only is Gil Saleshando smelling blood, he fancies himself presidential material.
Buoyed by a series of victories at recent by-elections, he has lately been displaying outward signs of growing confidence and bubbly composure.
In a way, he is adopting and projecting his party’s successes as personal victories.
And its working wonders.
So sure is Saleshando that he feels it is his loosely wrought alliance (and not the BNF) that should be given the privilege to take the mighty Ian Khama and his BDP machine head on.
For obvious reasons, the BNF will find Saleshando’s newfound confidence hard to take.
The official opposition will be enraged by the increasing influence and attention the new kid on the block is attracting.
But the fault is entirely BNF’s.
In a very strange way, the BNF has demonstrated weird illusions of political immortality; illusions that have driven them to take public loyalty for granted.
That attitude of entitlement has caused popular disillusionment and widespread disdain against the Front.
It has also raised the stature of the BCP as a political rival.
At a much higher level, the arrival of BAM into the BCP fold spells the end of life as the hitherto invincible BDP has grown to comfortably know it over the years.
To the ruling party, the alliance between BAM and BCP presents a new piece of unsettling reality.
Should the BAM/BCP combined firepower work as planned, the list and identities of high value casualties will be shocking by the time the BDP count their dead at the next general elections.
More importantly, should the BAM/BCP axis work as planned, it may just expose the BDP machine as a less than a perfectly oiled political juggernaut we have over the years been deceived to believe it is.
The ruling party is right in every way to be worried.
There is something ominous about the BCP’s good performance at the by-elections.
That sterling performance is sending a prophetic message to ruling party strategists and campaigners that disaster awaits them at the coming General Elections.
It may well be that his initial attitude to opposition unity has delayed the project, but as it turns out, Saleshando’s amazing political fortunes should get every opponent worried.
At the expense of everyone else, his political fortunes have been rising.
He is on course to political recovery.