Botswana Congress Party (BCP) said President Ian Khama is to blame for the unsuccessful campaign of Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi in her bid to ascend the chairmanship of African Union Commission over the weekend.
The Minister wanted to replace the incumbent, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma but could not as she failed because she could not obtain the necessary two-thirds majority vote.According to BCP Information and Publicity Secretary, Dithapelo Keorapetse, the party is of the view that President Ian Khama should be blamed for the loss of Venson-Moitoi because of his isolationist foreign policy and snubbing of AU heads of state and government meetings for almost eight years. “It was Khama’s duty (not Festus Mogae or Mokgweetsi Masisi) to persuade the countries that abstained to vote for Venson-Moitoi,” said Keorapetse adding that it did not make diplomatic sense that Khama expected other Presidents to vote for his candidate whilst he was having fun at Makgadikgadi Epic and Presidential Performing Arts Competitions.Over the long weekend, the President joined party revelers at Makgadikgadi for quad bike rides and planes.
“Botswana will during this July session domesticate the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) when the AU has fundamental misgivings about the ICC and some African countries are actually withdrawing from the Court. Botswana is ready to arrest and handover Africans indicted by the ICC but is unready to arrest and handover Americans indicted by the ICC,” writes Keorapetse adding that it was unrealistic and unreasonable for Khama to expect Africa to vote Botswana candidate under these circumstances.Vice President Masisi was quoted on Bloomberg after the elections saying, “The best defense is not to abuse, stick to the law. We would never allow our president to get away with murder. We are not being prescriptive, we are just asking that we up the game.”Speaking in an interview with BG News, Tati West MP, Biggie Butale who was in Moitoi’s campaign team said Khama could not be blamed for the loss because already the good work was done.
“Our campaign was going very well and during elections when some countries realized that we were going to win they abstained so as to stop our candidate from being confirmed as AU Commission Chair. Most people, like BCP, do not understand the geo-politics of Africa, that is why they make ill informed statement, shooting in the dark.” He said they are confident that Moitoi will emerge victorious in January next year. He reveals that some countries from West Africa have expressed desire that Khama should visit them but he declined to mention them.
“I will have to sit down with him first to pass the message. Botswana has a lot of respect in Africa. Quite a number of Presidents have asked me to convey to the President that he visits their countries” said Butale.According to Butale there are some countries in Southern Africa that want to field a different candidate in January. “They are our friends but we are confident that Moitoi will win because they want to frustrate us,” he said.
Venson- Moitoi managed to pass all election hurdles to the last stage as she remained the last candidate standing after others, in the former Uganda vice president, Specioza Wandira Kazibwe and Equatorial Guinea’s Foreign Minister Agapito Mba Mokuy were eliminated.Venson-Moitoi is not the only woman from Botswana to be snubbed at a regional or international level. In 2014 African countries rejected Attorney General Athaliah Molokomme’s candidacy for the presidency of the International Criminal Court (ICC) rather endorsing Senegalese Minister of Justice Sidiki Kaba as their preferred candidate.
In 2015 Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba failed in her bid to become the Commonwealth secretary-general. Dominica-born lawyer Patricia Scotland beat her to the post. The other candidate was Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda's ambassador to the United States.Still in 2015 President Ian Khama nominated Dr. Gloria Somolokae as Botswana’s candidate for the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for the period 2016-2019 but the candidate failed to get the nod. Keorapetse argues that these are women of substance who are qualified but were let down by “their President and Government who didn't campaign seriously for them.” Khama and the government could have done more for these women and secured a place where it could play a meaningful role in international relations, he says.