The AP is the only option – Butale

In the eyes of Phenyo Butale and his Alliance for Progressives whose party aims to turn Botswana into a paragon of nation-building, pussyfooting with Khama amounts to abiding intolerance while President Masisi’s anti-corruption drive is hampered by lack of a paradigm shift on Government Enclave. LETLHOGILE MPUANG spoke with the candidate for Gaborone Central

The Secretary General of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Phenyo Butale, says in the face of division and instability at both the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Batswana have no option but to turn to his party at the general elections in October.

Butale, who is the MP for Gaborone Central, characterised the AP as the home of stability and maturity. “Look at what is happening now at the BDP and the UDC,” he said in an interview. “Both parties are having serious problems and internal wars while we are the only stable party, hence we say we are the only option that Batswana for a new and better Botswana.”
On competition for Gaborone Central

Butale was elected to Parliament under the UDC in 2014 after causing one of the biggest upsets by defeating the sitting MP for the constituency, Dumelang Saleshando of the Botswana Congress Party and Rupert Hambira of the BDP. In this year’s elections, he will battle it out with the UDC’s Mpho Pheko and Tumisang Healy of the BDP. But Butale is confident of retaining his parliamentary seat on October 23.

“I had promised my constituents that every time I returned from a session of Parliament I would hold kgotla meetings to consult and give them feedback regarding what had been discussed and done in Parliament, as well as to continuously take a fresh mandate from them,” he said. “I have done that consistently since 2014.”

“I also held stakeholder engagements that included government sectors. I have visited schools and engaged with structures such as PTAs and staff in order to have a comprehensive understanding of what the constituency wants. This is why I was one of the most vocal MPs and the best performing MPs. We have achieved a lot as a constituency in these five years.”

Butale believes that the constituency development fund was put to good use in Gaborone Central. MPs have the final say in the use of these funds from government. “I sat down with councillors and ward developmental committees,” he said. “We decided to give each ward one million and we encouraged consultation in the wards regarding what projects should be implemented. At Boikhutso, for instance, they built a day care centre for our children. We have recreational parks at Village and at other neighbourhoods.

“With the remainder of the funds, we decided to address congestion at Princess Marina Hospital and to build a clinic at Maruapula which was overdue for more than 20 years. As we speak, the clinic is up and running and it is a state-of-the-art clinic. I am very proud of the projects we that we have implemented in our constituency and I can safely say that I have delivered on my promises as an MP.”

On MPs of the AP
“Without a doubt, I think MPs of the AP were top performers. We have kept Parliament alive and agog with our lively debates, one of which was arguing (former president) Ian Khama’s retirement package. It was us and others in the opposition who kept the debate alive. As a party we have done extremely well by any standards. We really spent time planning for our debates and everything we would say in Parliament.”

Dismissing Boko’s motion of no confidence
“We are a party driven by nothing else by the interests of the nation. For starters, we were never informed of any intention by the Leader of the Opposition. He had never spoken to us about it. Even the basis of his argument was not convincing. If you are to remove a president, there has to be a compelling case.”

Butale said while the President was trampling upon the constitution, “we felt Boko had no case. We don’t want to be seen as engineering coups in Parliament. That’s why we decide to abstain.”

On opposition unity talks
“We were more than welcome to work with the UDC and we said to them, let us agree on our cooperation in the soonest time possible. We also kindly asked them about a few issues that we felt could become a problem in our journey. They then said the timeline we gave was unreasonable and there was also nothing they could do about the case. Soon after that, we heard them on radio announcing that we had failed to reach an agreement. We hear some people going around saying how useless the AP is, but they should remember that they will need us somewhere.”

On the UDC pussyfooting with Khama
“We are not ruling out the possibility of working with the UDC after the elections. However, if we have concerns, we will raise them and seek ways of dealing with them. If Khama is a concern for us, we will ask that we deal with it. But one thing I would like to set straight is that we are principled people and stand by our word. We don’t say one thing today and another tomorrow. It is important to be consistent. We are for the truth. We are for democracy. We will not allow dictatorial tendencies from anywhere.”

On Masisi and the BDP
“What we have seen under Masisi is that he is trying to take the country to where it should have been 10 years ago but see no paradigm shift. He speaks of fighting corruption and having a clean government.The question is, how do you achieve that when you still have DISS, DCEC, FIA and other organs under the Office of the President? There is nothing drastic that he is doing that the BDP has not done in the last 10 years. This country needs a drastic change. He is promising the country some hope but we see nothing. Our vision at the AP is to transform this country into a paragon of nation building and prosperity.”