Team Venson-Moitoi remains confident of winning the African Union Commission (AUC) chairmanship in January 2017, following failure by all three candidates to secure enough votes for a clear win in Kigali, Rwanda on Monday. Botswana's Minister of Foreign Relations and International Cooperation Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi only managed 23 of the required 36 votes for a clear win, with 28 countries abstaining. Failure to secure a clear win by all candidates, coupled with a majority of countries choosing to abstain from casting their vote has sparked wild speculation from different quarters. Once again, as was the case ahead of the elections, questions have been raised about the calibre of the three candidates from Botswana, Equatorial Guinea and Uganda. Three candidates were in the contest to replace Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as the AUC chairperson, but all failed to win a required two-third majority for a clear win. There are suggestions that they are below the calibre desired for the AU Chairmanship, which was demonstrated by the lack of confidence from a large number of countries.
Botswana's foreign policy, especially rooftop diplomacy where the country has gained a reputation of openly criticising others, has been cited as Moitoi's major undoing. While analysts and commentators agree that Botswana's foreign policy is principled and objective, they also suggest that different factors could have contributed to Moitoi's failure to secure enough votes. Botswana's open criticism of other countries, led by state president Ian Khama, has isolated the country from fellow African states who strongly believe in quiet diplomacy among peers. This makes the small Southern African nation very unpopular among other states, coupled with Khama's open unsavoury comments dismissing the AU as just a talk shop. Khama has never attended any AU Summit, choosing to delegate his deputy, as was the case in Kigali over the weekend. The large number of countries abastaining from voting has opened the contest further, with the possibility of new candidates joining the race ahead of the January, 2017 re-run.