The newly appointed Leader of Opposition in Parliament and President of Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Dumelang Saleshando, says his priority is to normalize working relations within the opposition in Parliament as the current atmosphere of animosity that has led to the collapse of the opposition caucus is not helpful.
He observed that burning bridges between the parties which have long existed before the Umbrella project will not advance their individual or collective interests. Addressing the media for the first time as the Leader of Opposition on Wednesday in Gaborone, he said that it is normal to disagree on some issues as is the case with the issue of opposition cooperation.
He stated that the opposition parties must, however, accept that they have a responsibility to keep the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in check and present alternative policies. He added that it can be better achieved through a coherent opposition block in Parliament.
“The elevation of the BCP to the status of an official opposition party is a major achievement in the history of our party. It was important for Parliament to conduct its business in accordance with the standing orders,” said Saleshando.
He further stated that as the new leader of the opposition, he is the spokesperson of the official opposition in Parliament, which is the BCP. He added that contrary to popular perception, the leader of the opposition does not represent the entire opposition collective.
Saleshando said, however, the reality is that the leader of opposition can become more effective if they are able to marshal the collective forces within the opposition to present a more coherent voice from their side of the House.
“Within our membership ranks, there are men and women of diverse talents who are expected to provide the necessary support on areas that our team may not be best equipped to handle,” he said.
He said over and above that, the role of the official opposition is not to oppose aimlessly. He said their primary aim is to offer alternative policy options and offer support to noble initiatives that come from the government side. Furthermore, Saleshando said as leader of the opposition, he pledges to take the lead in offering a very clear alternative vision to that of the BDP. He observed that the nation is at a crossroads and added that the economy, even during the boom years, has never been able to deliver quality jobs at a pace that could radically transform the lives of the disadvantage.
“Government ministers crisscross the country on a daily basis explaining their agenda to the public. As the leader of a shadow government, I will also reach out through the same public channels to explain the role and agenda of the opposition in Parliament to the public,” he explained.