Foreign Affairs Minister, Pelonomi Venson-Motoi has intensified her bid for African Union (AU) chairpersonship as she enters the final phase of her campaign.
Following the postponement of the election to 19th January 2017 in July last year, Venson-Moitoi will face four other candidates in a contest that will put to an end to a lengthy spell of campaigns. Observers express that the fact that there are four other candidates puts Venson-Moitoi in a pole position to ascend to the throne. Venson-Moitoi will face Dr Amina Mohammed (Kenya), Moussa Mahmat (Chad), Agapito Mokuy (Equatorial Guinea), and Dr Abdoulaya Bathily (Senegal).
Venson-Moitoi currently enjoys the backing of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) having got the at last year’s July summit in Kigali, Rwanda, and latter in Swaziland for a second bid. In July last year Venson-Moitoi faced only two contenders for the position in; Dr Specioza Wandira Kazibwe of Uganda and Agapito Mba Mokuy of Equatorial Guinea. Other candidates had dropped off the race during the course of voting. Venson-Moitoi emerged with more votes in July Last year but could not garner the two third majority required by the regulations to ascend to the post. Dr Venson-Moitoi garnered 23 votes far cry from the required minimum of 36 votes.
About 28 countries had abstained from the second round of voting, citing wanting qualifications among the two candidates. Since then, Moitoi, who refused to suspend her campaign after falling to win enough support in July has been sourcing for support across the continent and has expressed optimism that she will get the required support at the next summit.
Venson-Moitoi has premised her campaign around the good standing that Botswana enjoys from the international community. Botswana, often referred to as the miracle of Africa is has managed to stay conflict free, stable and peaceful in continent raved by unending civil wars and corruption.
“I strive to share the peace and stability that Botswana is known for and champion this across our beautiful continent,” she said. As Africa’s longest standing democracy, Botswana have managed to hold general elections every five years without fail and have seen three presidents since independence leaving office voluntarily. Botswana also have a good record in human rights and its home to thousands refugees who flee their home countries as result of war and other human right violations acts. Botswana is currently ranked the least corrupt country in Africa by Transparency International, the prestige it has enjoyed in the last few decades.
Venson-Moitoi who has also led ministries such; Ministry of Education and Skills Development, and Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism has spent the better part of her career in the public service as top civil servant. From the early 1980s to the late 1990s, Moitoi was part of civil service which transformed Botswana’s economy. Between that ear, owing to discovery of diamonds at Jwaneng and prudent public service, Botswana’s economic growth averaged 13 percent.
Venson-Moitoi, if she triumphs will have to preside over a continent which is still not conflict free, ravaged by poverty and disease. The former minister of Education and Skills Development has emphasised that dialogue should be at the centre of problem solving in African and has pledged to promote it during her tenure.
“Dialogue is African. It is one thing that binds us together. We talk and we act, this is how we show progress,” she said. “I believe in the power of dialogue, of getting involved, and of working with others to drive progress.” Botswana’s former head of states; Sir Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae have been engaged on African missions before to broker peace and end conflicts in various nations. Masire was instrumental in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) peace negotiations in the early 2000s while Mogae was recently engaged to try to bring to an end a conflict in South Sudan.
Mogae has been spearheading Venson-Moitoi’s bid. Mogae who is also the winner of the Mo Ibrahim $5 million award, last year grabbed the opportunity at United Nations in New York introduced Venson-Moitoi to many African countries where he is highly respected. Dr. Venson-Moitoi, on her part, gave an impassioned speech about her own qualifications, why she is quite suited for the post of Chairperson of the AUC.
Venson-Moitoi is vision is to an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena” is one that is very much within reach in championing a sustainable future for Africa. She says this is because the AU Assembly adoption of Agenda 2063 was grounded upon this vision.
“Now is the time for the implementation of Agenda 2063 as clearly articulated in the first ten-year implementation plan. Implementation of this will result in quick wins and galvanise the desired transformation programme,” she stated. Venson-Moitoi also envisages AU as an efficient and effective organisation and notes the need to bring institutional culture of a high performance organisation for the purpose of the successful implementation of Agenda 2063.
“We need to develop and implement communications strategy that is aimed and popularising Agenda 2063 and ensuring the kind of buy-in that drives its success. This is another critical activity coinciding with the next tenure of Office of Chairperson. I will therefore ensure the development of the effective communications strategy to gamer further understand and support for Agenda 2063, thus instilling the culture of ownership among the citizen of Africa,” she said.
With Africa experiencing changes in population dynamics, Moitoi says the contennet is now dominated by young men and women who have not been given the opportunity to utilise their creative to propel the country forward. Venson-Moitoi says she has the plan do deal with this matter and ensure that Africa reaches its potential and become in influential player in global affairs.
MOITOI’S VISION FOR AFRICA
Ambitious Africa Guided by our shared principles peace, justice and equality, we as citizens of Africa we must keep on working for greater democratic governance in international decision making. This includes working to ensure that global institutions and bodies including the United Nations, Security Council accurately reflect the realities and dynamics of today’s world. To this end, the need for reform of Security Council cannot be overemphasised.
The time is now and we are on the right path. We cannot look back after more than seventy years of existence of the global body, to place this reform agenda on the priority list. We have continued as African leaders, to agitate for extending the number of permanent members to Security Council, thus making it more representative and better equipped to address the challenges and opportunities that the world faces, particularly in the area of international peace and security.
From MGDs to SGDs According to annual reports on the implementation of annual MGDs, African countries were recording steady improvements on most targets. The focus now is Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs). To achieve this, I believe policy makers must pursue inclusive goals strategies that promote broader participation of the active labour force. At the same time, we must ensure that returns from growth are invested in programmes that enhance productivity capacities of broad segments of society particularly women, young people and the vulnerable. Furthermore, African governments need to keep expanding agricultural policies through better policies and heavy investment in improved seeding, integrated farming, used of fertilizers and increased access to finance.
Realising Agenda 2063 Much has already been achieved by au through the development of the Agenda 2063, and the ground work has begun. I believe as the chairperson of the AUC I will be well placed to drive our continent to “The Africa we want!” that is ensuring that Agenda 2063 and its 10 year implementation plan delivers on its ultimate objective; to change the lives of all African people for the better. My focus will be putting in place the systems and procedures that will help us deliver of those aspirations. I believe my visions and experience, coupled with the internal expertise at the AUC, will help me deliver of this task.
Transformation Agenda I consider myself a transformist, rather than a conformist. Thus I fully support the transformation agenda of the AUC and am pleased to have this opportunity at a time when the development trajectory of the continent is strong. The AUC’s agenda 2063 enhances the momentum of this and makes clear the desired objective through the key strategic levels. Implementation of flagship projects will constitute the real vehicle for transforming Africa and achieving its integration, development and prosperity goals. I am confident that this dream that we have and share at the AUC is where within reach.
The Africa we want One of the greatest wishes of all AU members is to “silence the guns” on our continent. To see all school going age children attend class and get an education. To see the rights of women and men; girls and boys on the continents given their rightful place in the laws of the country they live in. To see democracy flourish. This is the Africa we want. It is my dream to be a part of that process.
Driving the democratic development across Africa As chairperson, the AUC, i will commit to promoting practices that seek to enhance Africa’s quest for democratic development. I will galvanised the support of all members states of the AUC to ensure that, together, we champion democratic governance by promoting the strengthening of democratic institutions, safe guarding human rights and guaranteeing the rule of law.
A United and Prosperous Africa We live in world with daunting challenges that respect no borders. No country, big or small, rich or poor, can solve these challenges on their own. They require a concerted effort from all of Africa citizens. This is an era of collective action and we, as the people of Africa, need to work together to make a different to ensure an integrated, peaceful, developed, and prosperous Africa. We have the resources, expertise, passion and evolving mindset in political, social and economic spheres to work together to make this vision of a united Africa a reality.
While it takes a lot to penetrate and thrive in the male dominated political space in Botswana, Block 3 Ward councillor Motamma Horatius, is one of the few females defying the odds.
Driven by passion, Horatius has always worn many hats and today she has become one of the few women who are thriving in the political space in Botswana. Prior to pursuing politics, she was an active participated in the creative space.
Horatius, a beauty queen, notably famous for her reign as Miss World Tourism Botswana represented Botswana in a television show famously known as Big Brother Africa. During her stay in the house, she got termed darling of the continent for an outstanding performance that promoted unity, humility and culture.
After serving for some time in public space, and making a name for herself as well as serving as a brand ambassador she decided to step in a career that will forever challenge her. This was after she had travelled the world and demonstrated her unique leadership skills and brilliance.
“I stopped and asked myself why am I not incorporating this brilliance back home. And wherever you go worldwide Botswana with all her faults is a beacon of hope in everything. And even successful countries came here to benchmark and implemented our policies and are flourishing such as Rwanda. So I decided to join active politics and go straight to the ruling party to add a youthful feel to an already existing force and help modernise it to serve better not from afar but from within,” she clarified.
“So my ample experience in civic leadership across countries around the world catapulted me to join active politics because I wondered, if I can do as much as an individual even across nations, how much can I do whilst in office, locally. And I chose to start from the ground up, in order to avoid leaving the locals behind.”
The stern and tenacious young leader, currently sit as the Chairperson of Finance Committee at Gaborone City Council, and also chairs Performance Monitoring Committee.
While a typical girl would dream of becoming either a nurse or choose a ‘girl’ orientated deemed career, she had a heart for politics from a very young age. By the time she left the creative space, she had already made a name for herself, that she needed no introduction.
“I had to acknowledge first that I am a woman, and being a woman means you have to work 200 percent more than your male counterparts. So it took sleeplessness nights, and a massive amount of working smart to win legitimately,” she said.
She acknowledges that she faced a lot of challenges during the 2019 elections which she had to overcome through the assistance of her loved ones and family.
“Politics is expensive but I managed by God’s grace, family, friends, acquaintances and good Samaritans but my mind helped. I am a very good planner when it comes to execution,” she said.
“Another hurdle is, being a young woman, I had conceived during the time of primary elections; so campaigning whilst expectant, managing your emotions through betrayals, insults, stress, house-to-house then giving birth and having to hit the ground in less than two weeks having given birth via C-section, was a hurdle I overcame by God’s mercy and I am thankful to my family for helping me with the kids because politics means a lot of time away from home.”
“Another hurdle was to portray an all rounded culturally grounded Motswana woman soft but yet stern, respectful but can articulate issues well. Because even though we are civilized our society still upholds unwritten yet practiced values of what a woman is and what a man is, and if you defy societal expectations, it judges you harshly. But thankfully I remained focused on who I was and didn’t try alternate anything When I lost some of the original members of my campaign team. The pain was deep. But I wiped my tears. Soldiered on, and God increased twice the initial number.”
At some point she had to face demeaning words from other male contestants, but the best to do at the time was to shun negativity and stay focused. Male intimidation never tugged her down.
“My experience with 2019 elections was rather inclined to learning as it was my first time running for office as a politician, so I wanted to see if really hard work has results because I always hear stories of how people are bought,” she said.
“So since I was not buying anyone, I was on a learning curve to test my hard work style of delivery against what is believed out there. So it was exciting and again I say it was a learning curve as most NGOs fighting to increase women participation in politics were continuously training us.’
Despite everything she feels women political participation in Botswana is still low. She has pleaded with the media to cover them more often as she believes maybe it will help more women to run for office.
Botswana has few women in parliament, giving men dominance in policy decisions. In a 63-seat parliament, Botswana has only seven female MPs, four of them being specially elected lawmakers.
According to the 2019 edition of the biennial Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Map of Women in Politics. Among the top African countries with a high percentage of women in ministerial positions are Rwanda (51.9%), South Africa (48.6%), Ethiopia (47.6%), Seychelles (45.5%), Uganda (36.7%) and Mali (34.4%).
The lowest percentage in Africa was in Morocco (5.6%), which has only one female minister in a cabinet of 18.
Other countries with fewer than 10% women ministers include Nigeria (8%), Mauritius (8.7%) and Sudan (9.5%).Other African countries with high percentages of women MPs include Namibia (46.2%), South Africa (42.7%) and Senegal (41.8%), according to the report.
Though a slight increase, Botswana is still lagging behind when it comes to women political participation.
According to a report made by IEC for the 2019 elections, there is 11.1% women representation in parliament. There has been a 1.6% slight increase from the 2019 election compared to the 2014 elections.
According to United Nations, there are two main obstacles that prevent women from participating fully in political life.
These are structural barriers, whereby discriminatory laws and institutions still limit women’s ability to run for office, and capacity gaps, which occur when women are less likely than men to have the education, contacts and resources needed to become effective leaders.
As it stands though, Botswana has continued to recognize gender equality as central to socio-economic, political and cultural development through its National Vision 2036.
Following the adoption of the National Policy on Gender and Development in 2015, the National Gender Commission was established in September 2016, to monitor implementation of the policy.
Government ministries and departments have moved to cut expenditure in the last quarter of financial year in order to survive the economic hardship occasioned by the covid-19 pandemic. Since the outbreak, Government and the private sector have been hard hit financially due to limited economic activity brought about by government response to fighting the pandemic.
In an urgent savingram by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Molefi Keaja addressed to all council secretaries and town clerks, the government informs that it is facing unprecedented budgetary challenges for Financial Year 2020/2021.
“This has necessitated measures to be put in place to conserve cash and ensure that government is able to honour its financial obligations in the remaining (3) months of the financial year,” said the savingram dated 24 December 2020.
The Government has cut all travel by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including State owned entities (SOEs) and Local Authorities until the next financial year in April 2021. It has also taken a decision that all meetings, interviews, seminars, workshops, conferences, retreats, annual ceremonies and hospitality events should be conducted virtually, which save on the cost of securing venues, conference facilities and meals/refreshments.
“No replenishment of refreshments for the Executive Cadre (E2 salary scale and above) until the end of the financial year,” Keaja directed. Last year government also resolved that due to the financial effects of Covid-19 the government will no longer recruit for any jobs during the 2020/2021 financial year.
The Cabinet directed that the 2020/2021 provision for vacancies be withdrawn from Ministries, Departments and Agencies recurrent budgets to cater for supplementary estimates. According to the saving gram then by the Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM) said the country faces fiscal challenges which have been accentuated by the emergence and the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amongst key ministries and departments affected were the Botswana Defence Force, National Strategy Office, Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), Commissioner of Police, Commissioner of Prisons, Clerk of National Assembly and the Directorate on Corruption & Economic Crime (DCEC).
It further deliberated that all various institutions that had begun recruitment for existing vacant positions be frozen for the remaining period of the 2020/2021 financial year. “Since funds for the vacancies will only be recruited in the next financial year 2020/20121, Ministries, Department and Agencies are advised to discontinue recruitment into such vacancies until 1st April 2021. Those who are already at an advanced stage of recruitment process are advised to withhold appointments until further notice.”
The Director of Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM), Goitseone Mosalakatane, told the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in September that despite the high unemployment rate, they cannot hire for the posts because part of the funds have been withdrawn to fight the Coronavirus.
With just a few days into the New Year, Covid-19 seems to be taking its toll and its effects will be felt vastly in the long run. Countries worldwide, including Botswana are injecting in millions of money in the fight against the deadly virus therefore placing immense uncertainty on country’s economy.
When delivering his speech at last year’s State of Nation Address President Mokgweetsi Masisi said during 2020, the domestic economy was expected to contract by 8.9 percent indicating that this is attributed to an expected sharp decline in major sectors such as mining, (minus 24.5 percent); trade, hotels and restaurants (minus 27.4 percent); construction (minus 6 percent); manufacturing (minus 3.9 percent); and transport and communications (minus 2.5 percent).
However, he assured that the economy is expected to rebound during 2021, with overall growth projected at 7.7 percent. The anticipated recovery will be driven by a rebound in growth of some major sectors such as mining (14.4 percent), trade, hotels and restaurants (18.8 percent), and transport and communications (4.2 percent).
Furthermore, Masisi pointed out that the recovery will also be supported by the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan currently being implemented by Government. “It is critical to note that these projections are dependent on, among others, the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions.
These containment measures have the effect of reducing spending by firms and households and causing supply-chain disruptions. Beyond this, the recovery phase will be influenced by confidence effects on households and businesses; sectoral transformation and changes in work patterns; as well as prospects for the recovery of global financial markets and commodity prices.”
Emphasising this, he explained that despite the challenges of COVID-19 there still remains the delicate balance of opening the economy whilst containing the disease burden. “Inflation according to the latest data from Statistics Botswana, inflation fell significantly from 2.2 percent in September 2019 to 1.8 percent in September 2020, remaining below the lower bound of the Bank of Botswana’s medium-term objective range of 3 to 6 percent,” he said.
The significant decline in inflation mainly reflects the downward adjustment in fuel prices in June 2020. However, inflation may rise above the current forecasts if the international commodity prices increase beyond current projections and in the event of upward price pressures occasioned by supply constraints due to travel restrictions and lockdowns.
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) last year had to cancel its elective congress due to the strict measures that had to be put in place due to Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.
Two other party events Women’s Wing Congress including the much anticipated victorious election celebration were also postponed due to the pandemic as gatherings were cancelled indefinitely. However the BDP is adamant that the party will be able to hold its National Congress and all other events that had been frozen this year.
Speaking to this publication chairman of BDP Communication & International Relations Sub-Committee Kagelelo Kentse said that the party was readying itself for the congress with the main objective being to review resolutions that were taken at their 38th National Congress in Mochudi in 2019. Emphasising this, Kentse said it was commendable that most of the resolutions taken in 2019 have by far been fulfilled.
Moreover, he said it would mean a lot for the party to be able to meet at the congress, this he said would give them the opportunity to introspect and reflect with regards to their manifesto. In 2019 the BDP made about eleven resolutions of which five of these were resolved and gazetted. The abridged resolutions were that the amendment of the law to allow agricultural land owners to use up to 50 percent of their land for non-core purposes, to amend the law to cancel transfer duty on property transferred between the spouses.
President Masisi also passed a law to allow married couples to be independently allocated land and increase threshold for non-payment of transfer on property acquired from P250k to P750k. On the resolution in the tourism sector, Kentse said efforts are very advanced to have local play a part. He said there is ongoing work with the Ministry of Lands on concessions that will be allocated to citizens.
According to the BDP communications chair the Ministry of Tourism has availed more opportunities in dams for tourism thus far, having already issued expression of interest for Letsibogo, Dikgatlhong, and Gaborone dams. Citizens are said to have applied for tenders which are currently under evaluation. There are about 45 campsites set aside for citizens in game reserves and forest reserves for tourism.
The resolution on the declaration of assets and liabilities law which was passed and amended this year, was supported by all legislators including those from opposition. Emphasising this he explained that contentions were on issues to do with valuations, and leaders have started declaring.
With the Congress comprising of the elective congress, the BDP is yet to embark on it an objective Kentse said is on their to do list this year even though the calendar of events has not yet been made. The elective congress has aroused interest, especially the Secretary General position which has attracted a number of participants of which observers believe will accord the incumbent, Mpho Balopi, the current secretary general, the opportunity to buy time if at all he will seek re-election in the position.