Botswana Congress Party President and MP for Gaborone Central, Dumelang Saleshando has lost the Leader Of Opposition in Parliament seat.
The seat was declared vacant by the speaker of parliament , Dr Margaret Nasha on Wednesday after the Botswana National Front(BNF) and Botswana Movement for Democratic Change(BMD) joined the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)a newly launched coalition party, resulting in a hung opposition.
“There are two parties in the opposition benches of this house, namely Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and they each have seven members in the house,” Nasha announced.
“It is my ruling therefore that the BCP shall effective from this ruling cease to be the official opposition party and the Honourable MP, Mr. Dumelang Saleshando ceases to be the leader of opposition, which position I accordingly hereby declare vacant,” Nasha said
Dr Nasha also announced that four BMD MPs, Nehemiah Modubule of Lobatse, Gilbert Mangole of Kgatleng West, Wynter Mmolotsi of Francistown South and Tawana Moremi of Maun West together with three BNF MPs, John Toto of Kgalagadi South, Abram Kesupile of Kanye South and Phillip Khwae of Kgalagadi North have joined UDC.
The MPs changed allegiance to the UDC because their parties have since become affiliated to the new party in an alliance for 2014 general elections when they are all expected to contest under the UDC.
They notified Nasha of their intentions last week on the 23rd November through writing and as the move was unprecedented, Nasha said she needed time to study the standing orders so that she could make a guided ruling on the matter, hence the announcement 5 days later.
In a brief interview outside Parliament Saleshando expressed disappointment that Parliament have suffered another setback of a hung Parliament, similar to what happened earlier this year.
“It is a setback for our democracy. There ought to be an alternative voice in Parliament. Our country is seen as a shining example of Democracy and it is disappointing that we still find ourselves in situations such as these,” Saleshando noted.
He however said BCP would be willing to graciously step aside to let UDC take over the Leader of opposition if that is the case because they were not in contest for the position.
Saleshando became a leader of Opposition in July this year after his party became the majority opposition in Parliament with 7 MPs when two MPs defected from another opposition party, Botswana National Front (BNF) to join it.
Th BCP leader was taking over the position from Botsalo Ntuane, who represented a coalition between BNF and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). However Ntuane has since left the BMD to rejoin the ruling Botswana Democratic party.