Africa: Botswana Foreign Minister Launches Campaign to Lead African Union

Photo: Peter Kenny/Geneva
Botswana's Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation, Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, is campaigning to chair the African Union Commission.
8 November 2016

Geneva — The African Union (AU) should focus less on politics and more on harnessing the continent’s money to create wealth for Africans, says Botswana’s candidate to lead the AU.

Speaking to a select group of African diplomats in Geneva—one of the world’s banking centres—the country's Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation, Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, launched a campaign to become the next chair of the AU Commission.

“The AU has concentrated only on politics only,” she said. “Our children are not going to live on politics. Our continent is not going to be built on politics. The schools we need to educate our children are not going to be created by politics.”

In a speech on October 31, she said that “I have come to talk about an Africa that can deliver on its ambitions because we all know that Africa can.”

She added: “There is a money on the continent…Its national pension funds are bloated with trillions of money in all sorts of denominations.

“If we were to work together with our private sectors we have people that know how to create wealth… If Africa can deliver on its ambitions, then why are we still talking about poverty on the continent?”

Africa had its “Motsepes in South Africa” and its “Dangotes in Nigeria,” she added, referring to the mining magnate Patrice Motsepe and the Nigerian industrialist Aiko Dangote.

Venson-Moitoi also said that when Africa went to the European Union or the United Nations it should go as the AU and not as individual nations. European nations came to Africa as the EU and not as individual nations, so Africa should do the same.

She was scheduled to continue to New York and London to pursue her campaign to lead the AU.

The four-year term of the current AU chairperson, South Africa’s Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has ended and she does not want to run for another term.

None of the three candidates who stood in the election to succeed Dlamini-Zuma earlier this year achieved the two-thirds majority needed to win. Venson-Moitoi was the most popular candidate in the first round, but with 16 votes she barely exceeded the number of abstentions.

Swaziland’s head of mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Njabuliso Busisiwe Gwebu, said the Botswana minister’s “on-going continental initiatives tie perfectly into the programmes of the Sustainable Development Goals, Agenda 2030, as well as the African Commission's Agenda 2063.”

In Venson-Moitoi's vision statement she says: “My vision for the AUC is an organization that seeks to deliver real results, pursues common objectives and envisions an integrated, people-centered and prosperous Africa, at peace with itself.

“My four-year priority as chairperson of the AUC will, first and foremost, be to ensure a focused and effective implementation of Agenda 2063 and its Ten-Year Implementation Plan.”

She said this included working towards achieving the goals of poverty eradication and fighting against economic marginalization, inequality, protracted conflicts, as well as for the empowerment of women and the protection of the rights of children.

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