Botswana Congress Party (BCP) President Dumelang Saleshando wishes to roll back the years to the era when the late Sir Ketumile Masire was leading the nation. Closing the BCP annual congress in Francistown last Tuesday, it was crystal clear that Saleshando was longing for Masire. In his speech reminiscent to the king of Rhythms & Blues’ fifth single of his 1998 album, If I could turn, turn back the hands of time, then my darling you would still be mine, the towering politician lamented the loss of Masire. Masire, one of the country’s greatest sons alongside the founding president of this diamond rich nation, Sir Seretse Khama, breathed his last late last month – in a development that shook the world to the core. Punching holes into President Ian Khama’s leadership style and longing for the departed Masire, Saleshando said: “One of the hallmarks of the Khama presidency is the transformation of our united nation into a society of rivals.” Workers, particularly those in the public service, 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, charged Saleshando. “The judiciary has known no peace with suspensions of judges and police investigations that can only be averted through apologies to the President,” claimed Saleshando, adding that ethical conduct of medical personnel has been compromised though promulgation of policies geared at discriminating patients on account of their lifestyle.
Saleshando decried that the “tradition of dialogue amongst political opponents is all but dead and buried under the “New BDP”, as the late Rre Rra Gaone (Masire) would prefer to call the ruling party under the current leadership.” “There was a time during the Masire era when political parties used to congregate in Francistown and sit around the table to reflect collectively, ruling and opposition parties on steps that needed to be taken to enrich our democracy,” remembered Saleshando. This forum, according to Saleshando, known as the All-Party Conference was not convened to comply with the requirements of any law but was an assembly of patriots who held divergent political convictions. Despite the fact that these politicians would trade political blows during campaigns at freedom squares, Saleshando said these patriots understood that the long term political interest of the country required them to periodically set aside their narrow partisan differences to make democracy stronger. In encouraging the current regime to emulate the precedence set by Seretse and Masire, Saleshando said: “Issues, such as the extension of the franchise to Batswana residing in foreign countries, reduction of the voting age to 18 from 21 as well as the establishment of the Independent Electoral Commission were thoroughly debated by the All-Party Conference before being introduced.” As if he knew that the opposition will come out guns blazing attacking his leadership style, Khama dismissed it as a bunch of unpatriotic citizens when delivering a keynote address to the 37th national congress of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) early this month. “Shame, poor things, we are all witnessing their frustration at their own incompetence. They are unpatriotic citizens who go out of their way to disparage their own country and even produce alternative facts to out-rightly deny our successes and achievements,” fumed Khama.