Saleshando is Leader of Opposition

saleshandoBG reporter Dumelang Saleshando- the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) president is the new Leader of Opposition taking over from Botsalo Ntuane who has since rejoined the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Following weeks of confusion the Speaker of National Assembly Dr. Margaret Nasha made a ruling on Wednesday that the BCP, as a single political party with the most seats in the house, is now the official opposition party in the house. The BCP has seven MPs while the coalition between the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) has eight MPs. BNF as a constituent party has three members while the BMD has five. Prior to Nasha’s ruling on Wednesday the BMD/BNF coalition maintained that they have the numbers to dictate who should be Leader of Opposition, arguing that the coalition constitutes the majority of opposition MPs. According to Nasha this confusion was brought about by the fact that parliament’s Standing Orders regulating the question of Leader of Opposition lacks clarity, especially pertaining to the status and position of a coalition formation. The coalition was formed during the last sitting of parliament when the two parties each had six MPs while the BCP had five. However, following weeks of defections and counter defections the BCP has a majority of seven MPs as a party. Nasha then used Standing Order 2.1 that states that, ‘The Speaker or any Member presiding, is responsible for ruling whenever any question arises as to the interpretation or application of a Standing Order and for deciding cases not otherwise provided for,” to declare BCP as the main opposition in parliament. She made the ruling following a meeting described by sources as “mature” with the opposition parties’ MPs. Nasha’s ruling is however not famous with the BMD/BNF coalition. Speaking in an interview BMD’ secretary general and MP for Francistown South Wynter Mmolotsi maintained that Standing Order 7.4 is clear that the Speaker should be notified of the existence of a coalition in parliament and according to him that is what they did in the last sitting of parliament. “The Speaker is now violating Article 7.4 of the Standing Orders,” said Mmolotsi. Nasha however maintained in parliament that, “It is my considered decision, that while the provisions of Standing Order 9.3 read together with Standing Order 9.3.1, and Standing Order 7.4, make provision for a Leader of the Opposition to be spokesperson for a coalition, the said provisions are however ambiguous, with respect to the appointment of a Leader of the Opposition where there is a coalition that is not inclusive of all Opposition parties in the House.” Meanwhile, Mmolotsi is of the view that BCP’ main opposition status will be a temporary arrangement saying with the registration of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) which is expected soon, then the latter will become the main opposition with eight MPs. But Saleshando is not bothered, telling the Botswana Guardian that he will not budget for the unstable Umbrella party. “I also hope it will be temporary because we don’t see ourselves as being in the opposition forever,” he said. However Mmolotsi said BMD and BNF MPs will now belong to the UDC, but dismissed claims that the MPs will defect to the new party. “UDC is an umbrella body and the BMD and BNF MPs belong to this body by virtue of their parties belonging to it,” said Mmolotsi. But Nasha on the other hand states that according to the Standing Orders BNF and BMD MPs will have to resign from their respective parties and join the UDC for them to become the main opposition. In an interview Nasha said, “they have to resign in writing from their parties. If they want to belong to a different party they know what to do, because they have been doing it.”

Last modified on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 16:24

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