Diplomatic sources this week dropped a damning claim linking Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to a plot to ‘sabotage’ the candidacy of Botswana’s foreign minister, Pelonoimi Venson-Moitoi for the position of Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
Venson-Moitoi and two other candidates –Uganda’s former vice president Dr. Specioza Wandira Kazibwe, 60, and Agapito Mba Mokuy, 51, the foreign minister of Equatorial Guinea - are vying to replace South Africa’s Dlamini-Zuma at the helm of the Addis-Ababa based Secretariat of the pan African body.
Said a source this week, “Dlamini-Zuma is failing dismally in her bid to succeed her ex-husband as president of South Africa and is now having second thoughts about returning to the African Union Commission.” And since she had already announced she would not be contesting a second term, her only way back, says the source, is to “de-campaign the three candidates” in the eyes of Africa’s presidents who will be voting in 18 days’ time in Kigali, Rwanda.
Asked to comment on this claims, Minister Venson-Moitoi, who was launched in Addis Ababa before Africa’s Ambassadors, would neither confirm or deny their veracity. “I will not be drawn into such allegations,” she said, adding her focus was on the elections. Other diplomatic sources that talked to this publication harbour very strong suspicions that Dlamini-Zuma is behind the campaign waged by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), threatening to sponsor a motion to postpone the elections for Chairperson of the Commission during the 17-18 AU Heads of State and Government Summit in Kigali. “It’s just a ploy to buy time so that she can return to the seat,” said one.
But Venson-Moitoi brushed aside any danger in such machinations, if ever they be proved true, saying the regulations of the AU are very clear about the conduct of elections. “The elections are running,” she said and asked if she was confident she has run a good campaign, she said she would cross the bridge when she gets to it. “So far so good, I can’t underestimate any of the contenders,” she said this week Wednesday. Yet another source said there was a groundswell of opinion in Addis Ababa that Dlamini-Zuma is not happy that SADC had picked a “strong and credible” candidate in Venson-Moitoi, who had acquitted herself admirably in Dlamini-Zuma’s own backyard (South Africa), to succeed her.
The source pointed to a May 10 report of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) allegedly written by the Daily Maverick, saying it is designed to de-campaign Venson-Moitoi. Southern Africa’s chances are gradually looking much brighter with this week’s state visit by Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta to Botswana. It is believed that President Ian Khama sought his vote for the upcoming elections. Although Kenya is in east Africa, Kenyatta is said to not be in good terms with Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni. Meanwhile, former President Festus Mogae, who’s the Special Envoy in Venson-Moitoi’s campaign is believed to be making inroads in north Africa, where he is mediating in the South Sudanese conflict between President Salvar Kirr Mayardit and his senior vice president and former rebel leader, Rieck Machar Teny Dhurgon.