SADC Ministerial Committee Organ (SMCO) composed of Ministers of Foreign Affairs has endorsed Botswana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi’s candidacy for the position of Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
The Ministers will present their recommendation to the SADC Heads of State and Government summit who will confirm Moitoi as the regional candidate in Mbabane, Swaziland at the end of the month.Botswana Guardian has it on good authority that SADC ministers made their decision during a meeting attended by all except Mauritius and Madagascar last week in Maputo, Mozambique after Botswana pronounced that Venson- Moitoi is still running for the position which has been declared open to all interested candidates.
However, it still remains uncertain if any of the member states will counter the SMCO recommendation by availing their candidates at the heads of state summit. Reports reaching Botswana Guardian indicate that after endorsing Venson- Moitoi, the SMCO emphasised the need for Botswana to share and, or provide the SADC Secretariat with her campaign strategy so that the entire region can own it. It is said the SMCO advised that SADC must use a more or similar strategy that was used when it was campaigning for the outgoing chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma.
An extract from the confidential minutes of the Maputo SMCO meeting shows that the ministers recommended that once the heads of state and government summit approve Venson- Moitoi’s candidature, the region must “Set up a campaign team consisting of SADC ministers of foreign affairs, with the support of the secretariat to spearhead the campaign for Venson-Moitoi”.Speaking to Botswana Guardian, Venson Moitoi confirmed, saying: “As a candidate I will comply with the SMCO advice and we will provide the SADC Secretariat with my hand or, our campaign strategy for the simple reason that I am their candidate and there is no way in which I could disobey my master’s instructions.”
Botswana pronounced her position to regional governments following a cabinet decision a fortnight ago to endorse Venson-Moitoi to go for a re-run. Cabinet also approved that there must be a budget for the campaign. Currently the budget remains a closely guarded secret as it is still being worked on. Venson- Moitoi said the delay to reveal the total budget was influenced by numerous factors, key amongst them being that after cabinet gave her the go ahead, the next step was to make a pronouncement and then seek regional endorsement at ministerial level.
“Now that we have been endorsed by the ministers we are starting to work on our budget which will largely depend on our strategy and will cover travel and other related matters”, she said. During the July elections held in Kigali, Rwanda, Venson- Moitoi managed to pass all election hurdles to the last stage as she remained the last candidate standing after former Uganda vice president, Specioza Wandira Kazibwe and Equatorial Guinea’s Foreign Minister Agapito Mba Mokuy were eliminated one after the other. However, she too was unable to obtain the necessary two-thirds majority required to usher her into office.