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THE WOMAN BEHIND A SUCCESSFUL POLITICIAN

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  •  At home with the Saleshandos

Behind every successful man there is a strong woman, so goes the old cliché.

CLOSELY KNIT: The saleshando family

While the success of the leader of opposition Botswana Congress Party, Dumelang Saleshando can be a subject of debate, the fact that he is a household name in the country’s political circles cannot be denied.
It is also without a doubt that behind Saleshando, there is a woman who has somehow helped him become the man and politician that he is today.The woman in question is none other than his wife of 10 years and friend for more than 15 years, 37- year- old Dineo.

But how is it to be a married to a politician and a public figure? Since his life seems to revolve around politics does it mean even when he is at home it’s all about politics and the umbrella and as a father does Saleshando really have time for his children?

Home

It’s just after 9am on Saturday when we arrive at Saleshando’s home in Phakalane.  We only have an hour to do the interview since they have to go to church as he had stressed the previous day when I called for an appointment and interview with him and his wife at home.

To say the Saleshando’s have a beautiful home is an under-statement. The well kept yard and neatly done landscaping is surely a teaser of what the interior of the double storey house looks like. Once inside one would be excused to think he/she is at some five star boutique hotel.

The open space, exquisite furniture and the blending décor gives it that ambience that makes it more than just a house. While I and my colleague are still lost in the beauty of the house, I quickly remember that we only have an hour so I start the interview with Saleshando as Dineo has asked to be excused for some minutes.With his daughter on the lap, I interrupt father and daughter who are playing together as I ask her name.

Preparing healthy food

“Her name is Remmone, she was born last September which makes the two of us born on that month.

We gave her this name because there was a joy that finally there is a girl in the house besides my wife of course. I come from a boys only family, I have two sons so when she was born we were all happy that it was a girl,” he says beaming from ear to ear while looking at her daughter whom he also calls queen of the house.

Wife
Just then Dineo walks in and invites me to the kitchen so we can have a chat while she prepares a fruit salad to take to church as it is community day.
“Saleshando was not a fully fledged politician when we met back in the days at UB but I obviously became involved as I was part of his life. I realised from an early stage that he is passionate about politics so I had to give him the support which I still do,’’ she says.

She however admits that she wishes her husband was not a politician as it takes most of his time away from family.
“We try our best to spend quality time as a family and when time allows we also travel with him during his many trips. The good thing is that our children seem to understand the nature of our jobs as I also get to travel. When I am away he becomes both a father and a mother. Saleshando loves his family and I am lucky to have him as a husband,’’ she says with a smile adding that she works for Standard Chartered Bank as the regional manager for credit.

Happy Couple

Dineo also revealed that she has learnt to accept the attention that her husband gets from both male and female supporters though in the early days it used to somehow bother her.
As the leader of the opposition BCP, it is obvious that Saleshando harbours ambitions to become the country’s president, so does this mean she also fancies being the first lady and does she think she has what it takes to be one.

“Hmmm, being the first lady has never crossed my mind but I guess if it does happen I will be able to play the role.”On what has kept the couple together amidst the high divorce rate in Botswana, Dineo says it is their solid love, trust and their respect for each other.

“We are also best friends who have a lot in common. We also understand each other very well and our interests. In as much as he tries to avoid talking politics at home, if he wants to talk about it, I give him an ear because I understand that it is something that he is passionate about.”
So does this mean that Saleshando is a perfect husband, I ask.

“Of course he is, his only downside is that he can’t change a bulb. We have to call an electrician for that,’’ she says with a laughter. It is something he confirms when we later join him and my colleague in the lounge.
“I don’t like manual work, anyway that’s why we have experts for that. But did you really have to tell her that,’’ he asks his wife with a smile while putting his arm around her as she lovingly perches herself next to him.
“She is the most beautiful woman in the world and that is why I married her and a whole lot of other reasons of course. I couldn’t ask for a better wife and best friend’’ says Saleshando as the two break into smiles as they gaze into each other’s eyes and cuddle.