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Saleshando becomes the most toppled LOO in history

Saleshando

Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando, has once again lost his Leader of Opposition (LOO) position, having suffered the same fate twice in previous spells between 2012 and 2014.

The latest development, owing to instability in opposition ranks, mean Saleshando is the most toppled opposition leader in the history of Botswana parliament, and he is yet to complete a parliamentary term at the helm. Barely, a week after being suspended from Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Saleshando lost his seat after UDC caucus resolved to removed him from his position. In his stead, Dithapelo Keorapetse, a BCP Member of Parliament, was chosen as the new Leader of Opposition.

Saleshando has a ruinous relationship with the position, having first ascended to it in 2012 on account of BCP gaining majority number in the opposition benches as a result of defections. BCP, which has started the 10th parliament with only 6 MPs, increased numbers when some MPs defected to the party in 2012.

Meanwhile, the Botswana Movement for Democracy, (BMD) which held the position between 2010 and 2012 suffered defections, when a significant number of its founding MPs, including then Leader of Opposition and party Vice President, Botsalo Ntuane  retraced their footsteps to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

In February 2012, the Leader of Opposition seat was declared vacant, after Prince Maele, then MP for Tswapong North, successfully tabled a motion in parliament to declare the position vacant due to tie in numbers between BMD and BCP. Prior to that, and in the back of the collapsed opposition cooperation talks, BCP and Botswana National Front (BNF) MPs had moved to topple Ntuane from the position. The MPs wrote a letter, signed by MPs from both parties, declaring that Isaac Mabiletsa has been appointed the new Leader of Opposition, a move which saw Maele taking advantage of the circus to introduce his motion.

The position was restored after BNF President, Duma Boko, engineered a pact coalition between BNF and BMD in parliament, resulting in Ntuane resuming his position. However, freakish defections between February and June that year, saw BCP gaining numerical advantage over its other opposition parties.  BNF MPs Mephato Reatile, Isaac Mabiletsa and Kentse Rammidi tendered their resignation from the party. Reatile joined BDP, while Mabiletsa and Rammidi joined BCP.

In an unprecedented move, Ntuane also resigned from BMD and re-joined BDP. In the winter session of 2012, Saleshando ascended to the position of Leader of Opposition for the first time. However, Saleshando was toppled four months later in November, when BNF and BMD MPs — subsequent to the launching of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) — declared that they now belong to the new party. The move created a tie of eight MPs each for BCP and UDC.

It was not until February 2014 that Saleshando will once again rise to the position of Leader of Opposition, in back of BCP victory in Francistown West bye-election. Habaudi Hubona had won the seat in the election that was marred by controversy. BDP, for the first time in history, was barred from fielding a parliamentary candidate after Francistown High Court ruled that the party did not conduct its primary elections procedurally.

However, in June that year, barely four months after returning to the seat, Saleshando was toppled again from the seat. The development was caused by the defection of Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, and MP for Tonota, Pono Moatlhodi to the UDC, which saw its number tie with BCP.

Since Dr Kenneth Koma, the longest serving Leader of Opposition, who was at the helm between 1985 and 2003, only Boko has completed a parliamentary term as Leader of Opposition. Boko was the Leader of Opposition during the 11th parliament (2014 and 2019) after UDC emerged from the elections with historic 17 seats, while BCP had three.

LEADER OF OPPOSITION
PARTY
YEAR
Philip Matante
Botswana Peoples Party
1965 – 1974
Bathoen Gaseitsiwe
Botswana National Front
1979 – 1984
Kenneth S. Koma
Botswana National Front
1985 – 2003
Nehemiah Modubule
Botswana National Front
2003-2004
Akanyang Magama
Botswana National Front
2004-2005
Otsweletse Moupo
Botswana National Front
2005-2009
Olebile Gaborone
Botswana National Front
2009-2010
Botsalo Ntuane
Botswana Movement for Democracy
2010-2012
Dumelang Saleshando
Botswana Congress Party
2012
Dumelang Saleshando
Botswana Congress Party
2013
Duma Boko
Umbrella for Democratic Change
2014-2019
Dumelang Saleshando
Umbrella for Democratic Change
2019 – 2022
Dithapelo Keorapetse
Umbrella for Democratic Change
2022 to date

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