Botswana stature in Africa – besides being a shining example of democracy – is often more of a rebel, differing without shame against peers on principle and often not keeping quiet about it. Now veteran politician and administrator Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi wants to run Africa in the all-powerful position of chairperson of the African Union (AU). Before she gets the job, Venson-Moitoi will have to work very hard in winning over those that see Botswana as an enemy. Those close to her believe she has what it takes to win and excel in the position. PHILLIMON MMESO reports
The jury is out on the decision by Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi run for the most senior position of the African Union (AU). Locals are divided over her decision, with some outrightly dismissing it as a futile exercise while others celebrate her courageous step. Nonetheless, Venson Moitoi is not listening to any discouraging noise. She believes she has what it takes to take Africa to the next level. She unveiled her vision for the AU on Friday morning when addressing the local media. Venson-Moitoi, who already enjoys the backing of SADC member states, revealed that she is an agent of the sustainable transformation agenda that is geared towards expediting Africa’s transformation process to become an effective and influential player in global politics. “As chairperson of the commission, I will provide the necessary guidance for programme formulation and prioritisation, driving the formulation of the strategic plan for the organisation,” said Venson-Moitoi, the MP for Serowe South.
AU has been financially struggling thus depending on the Western countries for support especially United States and European Union. Venson-Moitoi said addressing the financial challenges will be one of her immediate concern. Venson-Moitoi blames the financial challenges the continental body faces on the lack of relevant financing of the framework plans. “One of my immediate preoccupations, as the AU Commission Chairperson would be to provide leadership towards rationalising the needs and aspirations of our continental body with minimal resources at our disposal,” she said. Moitoi, who holds a Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University in the United States of America, said as the accounting officer at AU she will ensure prudent management and utilisation of the limited resources as contributed by Member States and development partners. There have concerns that failure by President Ian Khama to attend AU heads of State summit since he assumed office in 2008 will deal a blow to Moitoi’s candidature, but she is adamant that it won’t affect her campaign.
According to Venson-Moitoi, though Khama has not attended the AU Summits Botswana has been represented at the meetings and is a member in good standing and currently it is the dean of AU Ambassadors. Botswana has in the past differed with other African States like on the International Criminal Court (ICC) which AU took a resolution to quit it, and some observers believe that it might work against Moitoi’s candidature. “People have different opinions but they don’t break relationships. Having a different opinion to other African states does not mean we don’t support each other,” she said with confidence. Moitoi, a former Managing Director at the Institute for Local Government and Development in Cape Town, South Africa said after expressing her interest in running for the AU Commission President Khama endorsed her candidature. “He is fully behind my candidature and has written letters to some African heads of state seeking their support,” said Venson-Moitoi who has been an MP since 1999.
On the support from the regional block, Moitoi – who has worked as editor for the country’s private daily Mmegi – said that South African and Angolan media has already announced her candidature and is now upon her to visit the countries and present her case. The elections for the AU chairperson will be held in Kigali, Rwanda in July this year and should she win, Moitoi will resign as both MP and cabinet minister. She called on Batswana to support her saying ‘don’t pee on the soup’ because you will also eat it. The current AU chairperson, South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has already signalled that she will not seek renewal of her term that ends in June.
• Holder of Master of Science in Administration
• Honorary Doctorate in Human Capital Development – Limkokwing University
• Cabinet Minister for 15 years
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