'Venson-Moitoi team never consulted us' - opposition

SHARE   |   Monday, 25 July 2016   |   By Staff Writer
Mohwasa Mohwasa

As the debate over the failed attempt by Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi to win the African Union Chairperson seat rages on, the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and its member the Botswana National Front (BNF) have dismissed accusations that they failed to support the local candidate. BNF Secretary General Moeti Mohwasa – who doubles as the UDC spokesperson – said on Friday that they were never consulted about Venson-Moitoi's candidacy at the African Union (AU). "We just heard about that in the media. We were never consulted by anyone about such development. Therefore we could not support a course which we knew nothing about," said Mohwasa.

Mohwasa expressed concern that the Venson-Moitoi campaign team, just like the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), failed to appreciate the value and contribution of opposition parties as important stakeholders on national issues. "It is surprising that some BDP activists are accusing us of being unpatriotic, as they always do, yet they never engage us for our input. After their candidate was rejected they are now looking for scapegoats to apportion blame to," said Mohwasa, adding that even the Speaker of the National Assembly recently demonstrated the same attitude when she deliberately left out the Leader of Opposition when introducing dignitaries to visiting President of Namibia and his delegation. He said the BDP hijacked the AU campaign for selfish motives but overlooked the fact that President Ian Khama's continued absence from AU summits and open criticism of other African states disadvantaged Moitoi. 

According to Mohwasa, Venson-Moitoi's chances of winning the AU seat are minimal because the outgoing chairperson South Africa's Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, is also from the Southern Africa region, hence other regions would want to take over the position. Already former President of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, is reported to have shown interest in contesting the seat. Moitoi has since told the local media that she has not made a decision regarding the January 2017 re-run, pending consultations with her handlers. She, however, said she would be available to campaign for January 2017, should the SADC region still be interested in her candidature. 

The election of a new chairperson of the AU Commission was suspended last week Monday after none of the contestants managed to secure the majority votes. After three rounds of voting, none of the three candidates vying for the top job secured the required two-thirds majority. The conetstants are Venson-Moitoi, Uganda's former Vice-President Specioza Wandira Kazibwe and Equatorial Guinea's former Foreign Minister Agapito Mba Mokuy. Each of the three candidates had hoped to replace South Africa's Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who is stepping down after four years at the helm.