Formed in October 2017 against a backdrop of passion and blood, Alliance for Progressives (AP) began life in a blaze of publicity.
The Purple party has struggled to build on that early hype and now finds itself losing members at a worrying rate, with the lure of the BDP becoming increasingly difficult to ignore for many.
A place under the umbrella and a working relationship with the rest of the opposition appears to be AP’s best bet at remaining relevant.
The Voice’s DANIEL CHIDA caught up with the party’s Secretary General, Phenyo Butale, for an insight into the state of their affairs at AP.
Let’s journey back to 23 October 2019 and the General Elections. You only managed to return one MP, what went wrong?
We obviously didn’t perform the way we had expected, numbers wise.
However, we are proud that our message of clean Government, of jobs for all and land for residential and business purposes has reached so many people.
One MP and what happened; well several factors, and I will mention a few.
We all know that these elections were rigged and the process, as well as results integrity, severely dented by the DIS in cohort with the BDP.
Our electoral system is undemocratic and hugely disfavours other parties.
For example, the AP got more votes [popular vote] than the BPF. Yet the BPF has more MPs in Parliament than the AP!
Did you sell your brand enough to the people though?
We did all we could, given the constraints we were facing as a new party.
We were competing against well-established brands, with huge financial and other resources than us.
Also, as I had mentioned, we were up against a crooked system that stole the elections.
Given these constraints, why field so many Parliamentary candidates?
Your question is asked as if there is a ‘certain number’ that new parties are supposed to field. That is not the case. We were competing for state power, not merely participating.
Fast-forward to today and your members are starting to retrace their steps back to the BDP. What’s going on?
This is nothing new. Political party members cross to other parties all the time.
We are also getting members from other parties. And, the number that goes is insignificant compared to people who are coming in.
It is rumoured your new working relationship with BPF is the cause of such defections – they can’t stomach aligning with former President, Ian Khama?
As the AP, we have always advocated for a cooperation model with other formations – not only political parties, but other social groups (Churches, Unions, Students etc) because we believe this is how we will bring down the tired and now arrogant, corrupt BDP. We believe this is what is important.
Again, we cannot trivialise the important objective of releasing Batswana from bondage, misrule and mismanagement of the BDP by taking decisions based on an ‘individual’ preference.
The issue of cooperating with other parties will be determined by the AP members at the Congress which as a final say on all matters relating to the party.
We are currently seized with a comprehensive consultative process which will inform the way forward together with the negotiation process.
Answered like a veteran politician! So what arrangement with the other opposition parties would you prefer?
This matter is being dealt within our internal structures to form a considered view and, the deliberations on it will continue at the Congress, where a final decision will be made.
AP remains steadfastly committed to a robust, united and credible opposition block.