| January 17, 2017

With about two weeks left before elections to choose the next African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson, one of the five candidates for the post believes she has what it takes to be elected.

Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation of Botswana, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview Monday that she has the expertise, qualifications and experience in both private and public sectors to serve as the next chairperson.

Dr. Venson-Moitoi said she decided to seek election as AU Commission chairperson so as to serve the continent. "Africa cannot expect to be developed by anyone else but by her own people. This is not likely to happen if we do not offer ourselves for tasks that we may feel and know we have the capability to do," she added.

She said her campaign team had covered every region on the continent, canvassing for votes. Her team comprises Botswana's former president, Festus Mogae, and other legislators who have been making some diplomatic offensive to ask other States to vote for her.

Since July 2016, they have made 15 country visits per month. She also said she had reached out to various friends of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in other blocs.

Dr Venson-Moitoi said: "We obviously have the strong foundation of the total support of the SADC bloc, and that remains one of our biggest assets as a campaign team. We have commitment from many others across the remaining regions which are largely fluid in their support for the other candidates. All SADC Presidents are being reached to play a role since the candidature is regional and not limited to Botswana."

She said the SADC is the only region in Africa that has a single and endorsed candidate, which will give her an advantage. Under the outgoing AU Commission Chairperson, former South African foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the continental bloc came up with Agenda 2063, an action plan to build a prosperous and united Africa by addressing various challenges.

Botswana citizens believe the region deserves another change to consolidate what Dr. Dlamini-Zuma started in executing the Agenda 2063, Dr. Venson-Moitoi said, adding that she is an action-oriented person who believes in seeing action and less talk.

She said: "My 40-year track record provides SADC and Africa with someone who has both private and public sector experience to deliver on Agenda 2063. I have the proven experience and nuanced insight to be able to make a most meaningful contribution and bring to the AU and its member states all that is required within this role."

Dr. Venson-Moitoi said Africa needs a person of her caliber to take the continental's dreams to reality. The continent requires systems and processes to be aligned to the needs of the member states.

Sharing her vision for the continent, she said: "The AU must be the hub that unifies our collective response to the global community. We need to be a single voice that is not divided by geography or any other aspect. It is through this unity that we shall have strength in numbers and be able to take our place at the world table. This is an era of collective action and we, as the people of Africa, need to work together to make a difference to ensure an integrated, peaceful, developed, and prosperous Africa."

Basic statutory frameworks and constitutional guidelines are in place thanks to the work that the AU has achieved, she said. The general wishes of the continent are known and the fact that the continent now seeks peace has become common knowledge all over the world. Dr Venson-Moitoi believes that dialogue, mutual respect and compromise is the best way to resolve disagreements in the AU.

"I want to do this job simply because I know how to do it, I believe I have to give back to Africa, and I believe I can do so well. This is the Africa that has raised me, and that I am proud to call my home."

The AU Commission Chairperson elections will be held between Jan 30 and 31, 2017 during the 28th Ordinary Session of AU Heads of State and Government at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Other candidates for the post are Agapito Mba Mokuy, the Foreign Minister of Equatorial Guinea; Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Foreign Minister of Chad; Bathily Abdoulaye of Senegal, who is Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the UN Office for Central Africa; and Amina Mohammed, Kenya's Cabinet Secretary (Minister) for Foreign Affairs.


Category: Technology

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