Dumelang Saleshando needs no introduction. The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader is a veteran of the political sphere and one of the most respected politicians in the country.
Yet to reveal which constituency he will contest for in the upcoming general elections, in this exclusive interview with The Voice, amongst other things, Saleshando tells Voice Reporter, Sharon Mathala, that a decision will be made by next month at the latest.
Q: Taking you back to 2014 – what was going through your mind when you lost your constituency?
I don’t precisely recall what may have gone through my mind when the 2014 results for Gaborone were announced.
I was obviously very disappointed by the results but had to ponder the overall party performance.
There were a number of constituencies that we had expected to win but lost and as the leader, the burden was squarely on my shoulders.
Q: Did you consider quitting politics then?
The thought of quitting politics never crossed my mind. I have seen many politicians bounce back in a big way after a shattering electoral loss.
One such politician is non other than my own father who lost elections in 1999 and won comfortably 10 years later.
Q: Kindly tell our readers why it took your party so long to finally join the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) coalition?
The issue was not simply about the BCP joining the UDC. Our members had to be consulted on the direction the party was to take.
There was need to engage the UDC on policies to be pursued should we be entrusted with government.
This was a process that needed thorough reflections and thought.
The time taken to hammer out the details was crucial for the durability of the agreement.
Q: There are rumours that some party elders do not support the decision – is there any truth to this?
Allegations that some BCP elders do not support key party decisions are the imagination of rumourmongers.
All our party structures have endorsed the agreement we have reached with the UDC.
Q: With recent reports of ongoing “trouble” within the BMD, have you been in contact with the party leadership? What are your thoughts about the situation at the BMD?
The developments within the BMD are most unfortunate as they have the potential to harm the UDC brand.
I am hopeful that sanity will prevail and the BMD will focus on making a positive contribution to the UDC.
Q: By virtue of being party president you have resumed the role of the vice president of the UDC, sharing the position with Ndaba Gaolatlhe of the BMD – is there a good working relationship between the two of you? There are allegations that others feel hard-done by.
My duty is to grow the BCP. The growth of the BCP will assist the UDC to win elections and form a government.
I also have a responsibility to assist the leader of the UDC to steer the party to victory, a responsibility I share with the leader of the BMD.
It’s a mammoth task and we need all hands on deck. There is no room for bickering and I am focused on playing my part.
Q: The public is eager to know which constituency you will be contesting for, can you exclusively reveal this to The Voice.
The party leadership is still to decide whether or not I should contest for elections.
Should it be decided that strategically it’s in the interest of the party that I should not contest but rather focus on the national campaign, I will gladly do that.
If my colleagues in the party decide that I should contest, it will be for the party to decide where I contest.
This decision is highly likely to be decided some time next month.