As political parties and their candidates gear up for 2019 general elections, the Alliance for Progressives (AP) appears to be keeping a low profile and a united front amidst bitter fights from bigger political grouping.
The Voice Staffer Francinah Baaitse- Mmana met up with veteran politician and AP advisor to the president, Dr Margaret Nasha to discuss her party’s readiness for 2019 as well as her thoughts about the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and opposition’s Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
Nasha, a former speaker of Parliament and former member of BDP and BMD, further shares her opinion on the running of Parliament.
Q: When you left BDP in 2016, you said it was because of the way President Khama ran the Party. You said he took decisions based on emotions and killed debates? Now that he is no longer the Party President, would you consider rejoining the BDP?
No. I am not considering going back to the BDP. I still don’t believe that our AP principles are compatible with those of the BDP.
Having said that let me say that I fully expressed my feelings when I left, and in the end I promised to leave the BDP alone, if they left me alone too.
They have left me alone, and I want to keep my side of the promise.
Batswana are no longer interested in that kind of vitriolic politicking anyway.
Q: Do you think President Mokgweetsi Masisi would make a better leader than his predecessor Lt General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama?
First of all let’s agree on the prerequisite qualities that make a good leader, especially the leader of a whole nation and its government, not just any leader.
Such a person MUST be an upright person, honest and exude integrity.
He or she must know that they are accountable first and foremost to the nation they lead, and incline their ears to them.
His Excellency Hon Masisi has only just stepped into this office.
The whole nation will be listening and watching.
His actions must speak louder than words. That’s all I can say for now, before I make comparisons between him and his predecessor.
He doesn’t have a lot of time on his hands, and he must make his move, and do so fast.
Q: You were given a role of advisor at UDC, but you have since chosen to defect alongside other BMD members to form AP. What discouraged you from moving along with UDC?
The story of how the AP was born is a well-known one. I think the word “defect” is misplaced here.
All efforts to resolve our differences within the BMD peacefully hit a blank, and we felt abandoned by our mother body then, the UDC.
We were left with no other option but to form a new Party.
I still believe that if the UDC leadership had applied its mind to the matter and exercised good judgment, we could probably still be in the UDC.
But you know, sitting at this vantage point now and watching the sad events as they unfold within the UDC, I have come to believe that God was in control.
Q: Will you advise AP to join UDC now, looking at the fact that the 2019 general elections are around the corner?
No. I wouldn’t proffer such advice. Not now at least. I don’t think the current political climate at the UDC is conducive for such a move.
We are however watching developments at UDC with keen interest, and we are in no way oblivious of the fact that the Opposition would actually perform much better if we contested the 2019 elections as a united front.
Q: Is the AP ready to contest the 2019 general elections, if so, in how many constituencies?
The AP is of course getting ready to contest the 2019 general elections, but I am not at liberty at the present moment, to tell you exactly how many or which constituencies, but what I can say is that we shall be issuing a writ very soon, and we should be in a position to go as far as announcing our candidates as soon as that process has been completed.
Q: Do you have any wish or hope to return to Parliament?
No. I think I have done my bit as a Member of Parliament.
I shall only be supporting and campaigning vigorously for my party to win as many seats as possible.
Q: You fought hard for the independence of Parliament from the Office of the President and Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM). Would you say your efforts have borne fruit?
A lot of the steps we took to wrestle Parliament from the Executive are still in place.
Some have been put on the back burner, and others have been reversed.
The reversed one that comes to mind is the removal of the position of “Leader of the Minority Party in Parliament” from the Standing Orders.
Unfortunately the issue of live media coverage of Parliament is one of those that have been conveniently subjected to more talk than action.
And last but not least although the Committee system is in place, its implementation has been severely hampered, simply through lopsided appointment of MPs into those committees.
Let me just say that I remain optimistic. The foundation has been laid.
Despite all these shenanigans, the fact of the matter is that one day when Parliament finally takes its rightful place amongst equals in the governance structures of this country, it will not start from the beginning.