Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) vice President, Dumelang Saleshando has rubbished claims that some of his comrades want him removed from the position of Leader of Opposition (LOO) in Parliament.
Sources within the UDC have intimated that there are plans to frustrate Saleshando and push him out as the LOO and replace him with MP for Selibe Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse. An alleged fallout between Saleshando and UDC President Advocate Duma Boko is said to have triggered internal bickering among Members of Parliament who are now divided between the two.
Ever dismissive, Saleshando quipped that it would be interesting to find where those who want to topple him will get the numbers from since the caucus he leads in the August House remains united. A majority of opposition MPs in Parliament come from Botswana Congress Party (BCP), which Saleshando leads as its President. Their coalition partner, Botswana National Front (BNF) on the other hand, has only two MPs.
An opposition MP, who preferred anonymity, claimed that there is a plan to rally other MPs within the UDC to support the ousting of Saleshando as LOO. “Keorapetse has proven to be very articulate on issues of national interest and always gives alternative when debating in Parliament whilst Saleshando is just petty,” he said.
Keorapetse dismissed the allegations, saying it is just propaganda peddled by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) activists to try and destabilise the opposition. “Saleshando is the LOO because he is the Vice President of UDC. He was elected by the party caucus and endorsed by the National Executive Committee (NEC),” he said.
Those who support Saleshando praise him for bringing order and instilling discipline among opposition MPs in Parliament, especially ensuring that legislators conduct themselves like honourable members who follow proper communication channels. “Some of the MPs just want to do things as they like and state their positions without consulting the party leadership,” the source alleged.
One example in particular was when Palapye MP, Onneetse Ramogapi granted interviews to local media where he claimed that UDC condemned the shooting of alleged Namibian poachers by members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) anti-poaching unit. Ramogapi was later reprimanded because he was not sanctioned to present the position of the coalition, but was only expressing his personal opinion.
According to sources, calls for the removal of Saleshando by some BNF followers were fuelled by his criticism of former United States of America President, Donald Trump, for snubbing the inauguration of his successor, incoming President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Many within BNF interpreted the post to be a veiled attack and side remarks aimed at UDC President Duma Boko who refused to attend the inauguration of Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi in 2019. Boko is the BNF President, and recently infuriated BCP followers when he posted on Facebook that he had saved the political career of some people by helping them win elections and yet they remain thankless.
In a Facebook post with reference to Trump recently, Saleshando said anyone can deal with victory but only the mighty can bear defeat. He said he has tasted defeat many times in his life but still attended the swearing in of the President and all the MPs.
“I further wished the victor well and offered my assistance should he ever need it. We normally call people like Trump Narcissist! They are not normal; they suffer from a personality disorder. In their view, they are too important to lose. If only they could learn from a fellow narcissist Adolf Hitler when he said, “Anyone can deal with victory. Only the mighty can bear defeat,” he hit out.
Boko and former President Ian Khama, now the leader of opposition Botswana Patriotic Front -BPF, snubbed the inauguration of Masisi, saying the 2019 general elections were rigged.
Political analyst, Monkagedi Dithabiso says it will be impossible to oust Saleshando as LOO because the decision of the opposition caucus will have to be endorsed by the national executive committee of the UDC, which will not support bringing instability within the coalition. He said the arrival of Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) into the umbrella will kill the ambitions of those who are entertaining the idea of toppling Saleshando.
“Covid-19 protocols are also a blessing in disguise as they restrict physical meeting of large groups of people. It therefore means that even political parties, who are members of the UDC, will not be able to hold elective congresses this year. By 2022 the focus will be sharing and distribution of constituencies in preparation for the 2024 general elections. So, I don’t see UDC holding elective congresses this year, thus the status quo will remain going forward,” he said, adding that internal bickering will always exist but will not change anything.