Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Dumelang Saleshando has called on political parties to shun tribalism and focus on nation building and unity after the recent hotly contested polls.
“As the electoral dust settles, let us be mindful of the need to unite the nation and it has been left more divided by our rough contests for political office,” Saleshando said. Responding to the State of the Nation Address (SONA), Saleshando said the stand-off between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his predecessor, Ian Khama bore a silver lining that changed the country’s political landscape negatively.
On other matters, he credited Khama for breaking the BDP stranglehold on the Central District and Ga-Mmangwato in the just-ended nation polls.
He continued; “Love him or hate him, Ian Khama was correct when he pronounced repeatedly to his tribesmen that no party should be allowed to rule forever. Since independence, Central District has been a One-Party State. From now onwards, Ga- Mmangwato will remain part and parcel of our multi-party democracy. The changes in the Central District politics brought by Khama are most welcome”.
Saleshando said during the election campaigns, the opposition was accused of trying to bring back former president Khama to rule Botswana. “The accusation was made by non other than those who preached for 20 years that Khama was a God-sent Messiah. Some voters cast their votes, not on account of the manifesto messages, but chose to use the vote as a shield against the imagined return of Khama. It escapes
He added that the anti-Khama sentiment was strongest in the south of Botswana, leading to the electoral fortunes of the BDP improving in areas previously hostile to it. Still on elections, he stated that some commentators have accused the south of voting along tribal lines just to defend a southerner in the State House.
“This accusation, in my view is unfortunate and should not be permitted to gain currency. Gaborone, a highly cosmopolitan area and home to many Batswana of different tribal identities, is part and parcel of the south. A number of Batswana like me, are both southerners and northerners and will not condone the ‘them’ versus ‘us’ politics”.
“Mr. Speaker, the above are some of the developments that defined the 2019 elections. Add the Fake News and foul language that dominated social media from all quarters, you will agree with me that to describe the 2019 elections using phrases like political maturity, tolerance, respect for one another and peace smacks of denialism,” he said.
He stressed that the first election under the leadership of President Masisi has brought to the fore the weaknesses of our system and how it can be abused for electoral gains.