A summit of SADC leaders in Mbabane, Swaziland endorsed the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi‘s candidacy for the position of Chairperson of the African Union Commission on Wednesday.
Moitoi confirmed through a text message that the endorsement “has gone through” and that what remained was for her to unfold her campaign strategy. The endorsement brings to an end rife speculation that former Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete was positioning himself for the position. As the official candidate of southern Africa, this means that were anyone from the region to show interest, that person would be on their own. The regional leaders’ endorsement follows a recommendation by SADC Ministerial Committee Organ (SMCO) at their meeting in Maputo early August. Venson-Moitoi must now up her game to prepare for the real battle slated for January when elections are held.
There are real fears she may face a new candidate from the ECOWAS region, which boasts numerical strength. Venson-Moitoi’s campaign team will now be expected to provide the SADC Secretariat with her campaign strategy so that the entire region can own it
During the July elections in Kigali, Rwanda, Venson- Moitoi managed to pass all election hurdles to the last stage 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 required two-thirds majority to usher her into U’s lofty office.SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Tax confirmed that the heads of state and government, for the entire region will rally behind her campaign. She said that Moitoi has assured the leaders that she will hand over her campaign strategy to the Secretariat so that it could be shared among all member states. “But for now I cannot comment on how we are going to enrol the campaign until after I have received and studied the strategy,” said Tax.