We welcome all members of the fourth estate and reiterate our commitment to a free and unfettered press. As the AP we see the media as partner in our journey towards the 'new Botswana' and we shall under no circumstances condone media censorship.
Our recruitment drive is continuing, and in fact intensifying. We are proud of our teams, mostly young people, dispersed across the country. Like missionaries of the old, they are knocking at reed doors of the smallest hamlets. Outside churches they set tables and commune with congregants, men and women of God. Our dedicated members strut the malls and strike new friendships. With their last coins they travel to the remotest areas, and they find and register so many of our citizens on the football fields and at village gatherings. Their experience is that the people of this country are yearning for the type of change that will touch how they and their children live and see themselves.
As a result of this work, we continue to register large swaths of people to our party, and we are also expecting to receive some sitting councilors, at the right time. To date, we have had 5 regional launches out of 12 and we having the 6th one on the 16th in Mochudi.
The time has now come for our first Policy Forum, for which many of our ordinary members, along with experts have distilled and compiled a comprehensive Policy Document for discussion, and adoption. Our party constitution envisages such a special gathering, which we intend to hold on 14th, through the 15th of July. Our policy document lays the contours for significant reform, revitilisation and modernization of our nation’s governance system and economy. It sets the agenda to the transformation of the socio-economic conditions of the majority of our people.
The document covers important areas, such as: the need to overhaul the constitution of Botswana, our views & position on the need for a total economic transformation in order to revitalise and diversify our economy as well as our health, education and service delivery systems. We need to adopt those policies and agree on them before we make them public. It is our position that policies are rarely if every enough – a key aspect of translating any set of policies into tangible reality is leadership, a competent, honest, fair-minded, meritocratic collective and excellence in organization. This is what we at the AP offer our country
The Forum is also a platform to assess our Party Constitution. Our party structures and collective leadership have proposed some amendments, but they too, according to our procedures, have to be adopted and agreed upon, before they can be incorporated.
Progressives view politics as a contestation of ideas and a Manifesto Team has been appointed to further dissect our policies, once they have been approved by the policy forum, to generate the AP 2019 Manifesto and blueprint once elected into Government.
The Party is in the process of compiling its membership data-base into voters rolls. As soon as that exercise is complete, we plan to issue a writ and then proceed to conduct our Primary Elections in preparation for 2019. Our desire is to have our candidates in place as soon as its practicable, to assist in galvanizing the electorate for the forthcoming National registration. We however want to be true Progressives and ensure that this process is completely transparent and above board and truly democratic. We will phase the process, and the first phase should entail the first twenty constituencies, followed by the remainder of the constituencies in which we intend stand.
Electronic Voting Machine
On the issue of the use of the EVM for our 2019 elections, the AP remains firmly opposed to the use of that machine. It has been proven beyond doubt that the machine is not fraud-proof. In any case, we are still not convinced that we need this machine, with a voting population of less than a million, compared to 46 million voter's in the UK, who still use the ballot in their elections. We are indeed praying that our High Court conclude this matter as soon as possible. We also welcome the recent seeming change of heart by the government on the usage of the EVM.
AP stand on opposition unity:
We formed the AP out a dire need to provide our people with an authentic alternative to the current Government under whose rule the majority of our people continue to wallow in joblessness and desperate life conditions, a Government that is consistently failing to put in place the requisite democratic institutions, systems and cultures necessary to cultivate the path for a Botswana where ordinary citizens are able to fulfill their life potential and aspirations.
Our vision is to build on Botswana’s strong foundation of enduring peace and democracy, to shape a resourceful and resilient nation whose citizens stand together, are collaborative and respectful, have a creative spirit that seeks out new opportunities, so that our country can be a paragon of nation-building and prosperity on the African continent.
We have already stated that the organisational conditions in the vehicle we had hoped to use to offer Botswana this alternative is not conducive for cultivating, in an authentic way, the path for this new Botswana that so many yearn for. This Botswana is only possible within a leadership collective that is honest, true, open and fair-minded. These ingredients were desperately missing at our old home.
However, we are wired to collaborate with all sectors of our society and to work with others to achieve this vision. We still consider the BNF as the same family as us, having shared the same journey with them over a period of time. We have taken steps to engage individual union leaders and even churches for some time now. I have personally had informal discussions with leaders of the BNF, BPP and BCP as well, which discussions will continue. This would not have been the case if we did not believe in working with others. The fact that among our MP candidates are people originally from a diverse spectrum of labour, political, church and private sector formations says a lot about our inclusiveness and desire to unite the country.
Our party leadership holds our original conveners in high esteem, for their wise counsel and fair-mindedness. We continue to propose that they are the ideal platform at which all political parties can engage each other for a structured alternative government collective going into 2019. This can work, and this will work even though it will not necessarily take the form that we had all envisaged in the past.
President Masisi and his first 100 days in office
I am aware this is probably your most favourite part of the press conference. You are curious what our diagnosis is on President Masisi’s first 100 days in office. I have heard you in the media and others commending him. First lets understand three concepts: normalization, meaningful reform and transformation. Normalisation means resetting the environment to what it should have been ten or more years ago – these are the basics: fighting corruption, installing the ease of doing business agenda, creation jobs, restoring confidence in government, accelerating bilateral relations, the very things that President talks about and says he is working on.
There were 2200 jobs created between 2013 and 2015 versus 40 thousand plus people joining the job market. This kind of desperate circumstance cannot be cured by normalization.
If you are citizen who is happy with ‘normalization” of the environment, then President Masisi would make you happy. But that is what democracy is all about, choices, being able to make a choice about who should lead your country. You have a choice between normalization or transformation. The current BDP Government offers normalization, we offer transformation:
We at the AP are about transformation. Revitalisation, modernization, and restructuring that leads to transformation. We need to transform:
a) how the Government works (and executive that concentrates power on itself versus a Parliament that does not have the resources to fulfill its most basic mandates)
b) our strategic deployment of public procurement system to cultivate sustainable businesses
c) the way we ignite indigenous participation in potentially lucrative sectors ( still no second tier banking licensing, failure to involve Batswana in basic diamond dealing, no agenda for creative sector)
d) the way we have been beholden to one Debeers, at the expense of potentially serious benefits to economic transformation
e) the manner we have chronically underinvested in quality technical/vocational/management training
f) our service delivery, including decentralization to municipalities
g) the way we manage our national human resources – putting the right people in the right places
h) our research and development to create international best seller products and services
i) plan and implement major infrastructure projects (we are currently underinvesting in roads, broadband,
j) the way we approach land-servicing and make that land available to ordinary citizens and productive hands.
The current Government does not offer transformation. Neither have their plans offered any high level targets in any case, and so it is difficult to measure or evaluate progress objectively.
What Botswana needs a transformative Government with a transformative agenda. Our people need jobs, not just jobs, sustainable and decent jobs. They need a decent place to live in, an opportunity to develop themselves into productive citizens. Our people need a Government that responds rapidly to their needs, one that is able to deliver basic services at reasonable cost. They want to see a Government that is transparent in their dealings and cultivates institutions that bring our the best in their people.
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you to be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord is with you wherever you go”
Alliance for Progressives (AP)