JOHANNESBURG: Although the return of Dumelang Saleshando to Parliament comes under a sad reality of the fall of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) president, Duma Boko, it has been widely welcomed.
Saleshando returns to Parliament with a good harvest of a total of 15 UDC legislators elect, majority of whom are endowed with good educational background. This is expected to add value to debate and articulation of issues.
Unfortunately, the team is without Boko, the UDC leader who lost to the ruling party’s Annah Mokgethi, leaving Saleshando as the helmsman in the next Parliament.
A good orator and shrewd debater himself, Saleshando and his team, a majority of whom are from the northern part of the country, are expected to set Parliament alight and keep the ruling party legislators on their toes.
Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) with three legislators from Serowe together with the Alliance for Progressives’ (AP) lone MP from Francistown South constituency, Wynter Mmolotsi add up to a total of 19 opposition MPs.
In some of the congratulatory messages, one writer had said about Saleshando: “You deserve it, and this is where you rightfully belong, and Parliament will never be quiet again.
You were greatly missed for your wealth of experience in the politics of the motherland”. The name of the writer is withheld because he/she a civil servant.
Saleshando is one of the politicians who seemingly enjoy wide acceptance from across the political divide just like the AP president, Ndaba Gaolathe, who was not re-elected as MP. Saleshando is an indefatigable fighter who will rarely give up in any political fight.
To compensate for their UDC colleagues who lost the elections in the southern part of the country, the voices of Saleshando and his highly regarded team of MPs are expected to set Parliament alight.
His team includes Goretetse Kekgonegile, Kenny Kapinga, Caterpillar Hikuama, Never Tshabang, Pono Moatlhodi, Dithapelo Keorapetse, Kgoberego Nkawana, Taolo Lucas, Kesitegile Gobotswang, Boko Yandani, David Tshere, Aubrey Lesaso, Motsamai Motsamai and Onneetse Ramogapi.
Saleshando will be remembered amongst others through some motions he tabled in the previous ninth and 10th Parliaments.
He had previously tabled a motion of no confidence on the leadership of former president, Ian Khama, which called for the declaration of assets and liabilities by politicians and senior government officials and a motion on the land audit amongst others.
As the impending ninth Leader of Opposition in Parliament, a role that he shouldered between 2012 and 2014, he is likely to give the ruling BDP a torrid time in Parliament.
In all respects, the 48-year-old politician is considered to be mature, calm and has a good grasp of issues.
From his early days at secondary school, Saleshando exhibited a high appetite for political leadership.
Although his late mother, Keatlaretse Saleshando had noticed this and wanted to curtail Dumelang’s developing interest to follow his father, Gilson’s political roots, it was too late.
The young Saleshando or Lord Dumms as hordes of the UDC followers call him, was already embedded into politics. In other words, he had already caught the political bug.
During his tenure as a student at the University of Botswana (UB), Saleshando lost his loving and protective mother who wanted to keep his eldest son away from politics and he found himself following his father’s footsteps.
His mother passed on in a road mishap.
He was at the UB at a time when his father was very active in the Botswana National Front (BNF) politics. Saleshando could not resist the urge to participate in active politics as well. He got immersed in the UB student politics. He majored in economics and political science.
Whilst his father was always taken by political activities away from their home, Dumelang, the senior brother took care of the four junior brothers and thus taking over the leadership challenges in the house.
After university, Saleshando joined First National Bank Botswana as a trainee manager but he was summarily dismissed for allegedly leaking information about the finances of the ruling party.
In 2004, Saleshando ousted BDP’s Margaret Nasha from Gaborone Central as the area MP. He would then be re-elected in 2009 for the same area until he lost to Phenyo Butale in 2014.
This is after he was given an added responsibility after taking over from his father as the BCP leader in 2010 without opposition.
At a press conference he held post Maun West parliamentary elections victory on October 25, Saleshando said now that the party did not do as expected, he vouched that the UDC will stand by its president Boko. He said disappointing as the elections may be, they have showed the real character of President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
“In 2014, I contested the elections under the guise of the BCP using hired flights from South Africa any way I wished in my campaigns and the State didn’t harass us,” he noted and added: “Under Masisi, he uses State resources to fight political battles. The campaign was made more difficult by the intolerance of Masisi”.
He does not think Masisi and his party could be thinking they have sweet victory because he knows what he did to win the elections. Whilst the opposition in the past decried Khama’s misrule, “Masisi did a lot that we didn’t expect to experience in Botswana”.
During Saleshando’s launch in Maun West on September 29, Boko nearly did not make it to his launch as his flight was detained for searching and thereby forcing the UDC president to hire another flight at a huge cost.
He describes Masisi as a President who despite having access to State resources, still felt jealous when he saw his competition using aircraft for campaigns.
“I hope he has a conscience and when he sits back he will reflect that some of these activities aren’t good for nation-building. He can’t divide us and expect to rule us like a united nation.”
Saleshando is elated that the UDC has literally cleansed Ngamiland of the BDP with the cherry on top being a deserved win of the Okavango.
Dumelang is a family man and is married with three children. His wife Dineo provided a shoulder for the husband to lean on throughout the campaigns. She was incessantly supportive. This particular victory Saleshando is dedicated to her.