"As a Motswana who has enjoyed the benefits of peace and development, why should I not offer my learnings and experience to the rest of Africa? We have been described as the beacon of Africa … I believe we owe it to Africa to share and help move Africa forward". These words by Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, Botswana’s Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation who is vying for the African Union chairpersonship position perhaps captures her vision and juxtapose how her candidature could be just what the doctor ordered for the African continent looking at the fact that it is in fact true that Botswana along with a few others continue to perform better in international ratings on corruption, peace and sustainable develop an occurrence which many are struggling with. Venson-Moitoi’s deliberate move to use her country as the foundation of what her plans for Africa and the AU top office entails has won her support from ordinary Africans who feel Botswana’s track record in good governance could act as a benchmark for other African countries. Her recent decision to openly call for former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to vacate office after he lost to Adama Barrow won Moitoi recognition from many Africans who felt it is time African leaders come out clear and speak out against wrong doing.
Jammeh… We beg!
“#Jammeh, the people have spoken. Full stop. Today it is President Barrow for Gambia. Please honor that! It is really that simple. We beg!” Moitoi tweeted on the 19th of January. The occurrence in Gambia, according to renowned Kenyan blogger Paul Achar, provided an opportunity for the leading candidates to frame their agenda and use it as an opportunity to further the ideal of Good Governance in Africa as espoused by the AU. He points out that his country Kenya and by extension its foreign minister Amina Mohammed choose the easy way out and opted to be silent on the issue but Botswana took a firm stance and even issued a statement criticizing Jammeh’s move. Venson-Moitoi last year missed the African Union (AU) plum post by a thin margin after she and other contenders failed to meet the two-thirds threshold required for one to win, though she is facing off new competition Venson-Moitoi is not showing any signs of defeat. After emerging the closest contender to the title against two counterparts in the last election, this time Venson-Moitoi is vying for the post with four, with her closest competition according to some observers being Kenya’s Mohammed. But the ‘mother of the house’ as Venson-Moitoi is referred to in the National Assembly of Botswana is nowhere near throwing in the towel and has in fact garnered vast support across the continent.
An administrator of note, she reckons her expertise will come in handy coupled with Botswana’s outstanding administrative foot print. “We have been very big on that administration and government. And I asked [President Ian Khama] if I could—at least if I get the opportunity and am elected—go and share the experience I have had in administration because I thought that the office itself needs administration—it needs a manager.” Venson-Moitoi said this in an interview with the World policy Journal early this month. If Venson-Moitoi is spot on about the needs of the AU top office, then maybe she truly stands a chance of claiming the seat this time around. Her campaign is also getting positive reception in many quarters across Africa. Venson-Moitoi herself is said to have so far travelled to about 30 countries canvassing for support and selling her dreams for a better Africa rigorous high level Strategic campaigns. Her campaign team on the other hand spearheaded by former President Dr Festus Mogae is said to be also actively taking part in the campaign.
The Phenomenal African Woman Foundation on Tuesday pledged their support on the social network using the hash tag #Venson4AUChair; PAW tweeted a picture of Moitoi with the message: Did you know? Africa is rich in potential. Unlocking this further is what we ought to focus upon to drive growth and prosperity. As if to drive the point home they cleared stated that Moitoi is “ our candidate for chair of the African Union 2017. PAW has over 4 000 followers.
Moitoi’s outspokenness on the recent Gambia political dead log in which former president Jammeh was refusing to step down has to some observers bolstered her support in the African region. Africlandpost, a media platform that gives daily update on what's going on in Africa as reported by Africans also gave props to Moitoi on their Facebook page recently. When comparing Moitoi to her closest contender, the Kenyan Foreign Secretary, they opined that since the two are both a representation of their countries governments, Africans would find it very easily and appealing to vote in Botswana's Pelonomi over Amina. They among others highlighted that Botswana's government have zero corruption tolerance and the country is ranked best to live in Africa and among top 20 in PEACE index while Kenya 's government on the other hand “ is dogged with nothing but corruption and more corruption and tribalism that should not be extended to the AU offices in Addis.,” .
While other candidates like Kenya’s Mohammed are openly campaigned for by their heads of states that travel with them to the AU summit, Ian Khama continues to shun AU summits preferring to delegate the responsibility to the Vice President. This habit by Khama has been blamed for Venson-Moitoi’s previous loss as it does not sit well with other Head of States who attend the AU summit without fail and feel Khama‘s priorities lie elsewhere. Khama will again not attend the AU summit this coming week, giving the task to Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi once more. “The Vice President has more hands-on experience on Mma Venson’s campaign more so that he was also in charge last time. Yes, he has been given voting rights to act on behalf of the president,” said government spokesperson Jeff Ramsay. Ramsay rubbished insinuations that Khama’s absence may jeopardise Venson-Moitoi’s chances, saying that though they (critics) are entitled to their opinions, they were actually not necessarily correct. He claimed that the Khama has never stopped canvassing for support for Venson-Moitoi and that he is constantly in contact with the same leaders who will be at the AU summit. “He is continuously campaigning for her, by getting in touch with leaders through face to face meetings, telephone calls and in regional and international meetings,” Ramsay said.