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Why I joined Matekane

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THE Alliance for Democrats (AD) is reeling after it lost several senior members who have joined Sam Matekane’s Revolution for Prosperity (RFP). Dr Mahali Phamotse, the party’s secretary-general, is one of those seniors who have jumped ship. Hundreds of members have also left the party. The defections have not gone down well with party leader Monyane Moleleki, who has been on a charm offensive to revive the party’s waning fortunes. He has accused some unnamed members of trying to sell the party to the highest bidder. This week, we spoke to Dr Phamotse about her exit. Below are excerpts from the interview.

At what point did you decide to join the RFP?

I think it was a week or a few days after Matekane announced that he was forming a political party. I advanced the idea that we should join his party.
I was thinking of some sort of agreement we could have with his party or some sort of arrangement at individual level. I didn’t want to join the party alone. I wanted us to do it as a group.
My idea was that the AD should help Matekane to bring change and ensure that his party has enough support to lead the government and not as part of any coalition.

Why did you want the AD to support Matekane? Couldn’t the AD work on its own to achieve the same goals as the RFP?

We have been trying to create jobs and alleviate poverty. I said our party has done what it could but has failed.
I said here is a party led by a person with similar goals but maybe a different strategy that would work for the betterment of our country.
I said we should therefore support him. I must however point out that this was not an imposition.
I was just suggesting a different route to achieve what we have always wanted for our people.

Where did you make this suggestion?

It was not a formal meeting but there were MPs and members of the executive committee.
It was nothing formal because there were no structures at the meeting.
Other people at the meeting were giving their views about the new party and how we could respond to it.

What was the reaction from those at the meeting?

Their views were varied. I cannot say there was much dispute at the meeting. It was people giving their views.
Others said we should talk to Matekane to have a deal in which his party does not contest some 20 seats.
The idea was to give the AD a fighting chance in those constituencies. Some were saying we should wait after the election so that we go into a coalition with his party.

Are you, therefore, saying that even at those early stages the AD could see that it had no chance against the RFP? Is this an admission, on your part, that the AD doesn’t stand a chance in the next election?

It was a brainstorming session. We were discussing ways to tackle the RFP. I am sure other political parties had the same discussions after the RFP was announced.
It’s a discussion that happens every time there is a new political party that is believed to have the numbers.

The RFP has the numbers and it’s growing every day. That is the reality. People are running to that party.
Frankly, I have never seen so many people requesting forms to join a party that has not even solicited their support.

People in my constituency had already joined the RFP even before I joined it.
They said it was my choice to stay in the AD or follow them to the RFP. In fact, they said I could stay in the AD at my own risk.

Do you have any regrets about the years you spent in the AD?

I don’t regret because there was no other better party. It was a better party. My leader was a better leader.
He is still a better leader but Matekane is best because of what he has done for the people. He has given back to the people. Comparatively,

I think Matekane has a better chance of creating jobs. He has done a lot in his home area. He has helped the police and army with uniforms and ambulances.
He has created jobs in his home area and the rest of the country.

But some say he could only do those things because of the government tenders he was winning.

That is not the point. Some people have won tenders but have done less than Matekane. It’s not about what you get from the government but what you do with what you get.
Ministers in successive governments have awarded themselves or their friends tenders but have not helped their people.
It’s about what you do with what you make from the tenders. Matekane can do more in scale.

But the AD leader has been in government for some three decades. Are you saying he has done less than Matekane in that time?

I am not saying my former leader is useless. I am saying Matekane has done more. Maybe Moleleki did not do more because he is not a businessman.
I know he has done what he could for his people and the country. All I am saying is that Matekane has done more. It’s about the scale.

Have you been promised anything by the RFP?

I have not been promised anything. I am just a mere member. I don’t want to lead the party.
I want to be a loyal member. No one has promised me anything. I have never been to the party’s offices. I don’t need to be there. Nobody has seen me there.

Will you contest under the RFP in your constituency?

If my people want me to, I will contest. They decide who they want to lead them. As we speak now I am in my constituency laying the ground.

What do you think is special about Matekane as a leader?

I think he has a vision. I believe he will attract investors for projects, especially the youths.
He has achieved much in business so I think he is someone we can follow and copy from. I have delivered in my constituency but it’s not enough.
I think we should do more. It will be a marathon and I am prepared to run the it.

Some of your former comrades in the AD are not happy with your decision. Some say you have sold out to a party of rich people.

I know they are not happy because no one wants to lose supporters. I have seen their comments on social media platforms. I have heard them on radio stations.
But I am not worried because I am not working against any party. I am working for the RFP. I have not said anything bad about them.

I have no bad words for any other party. It doesn’t give me any problem because I am not badmouthing any other party.
I am talking about what the RFP can do for the people. I have a lot of support in my constituency and that is what really matters to me.

The problem with our politics is that people are not looking at what they can do for the people but what they can gain from politics.
People are not putting their country first. They are putting themselves first.

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