President Lt. Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi
President Lt. Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama may release Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi for the Chairmanship of African Union Commission.
WeekendPost has established that Khama has given the move thumbs up as, given her credentials, Venson-Moitoi will represent the country well and in particular the AU as the highest decision making organ of the continent.
The Southern African Development Cooperation (SADC) has unanimously endorsed the Botswana candidate – Moitoi – for the position, and stakes are high for other regions, as it is widely believed that the continent may opt for another Southerner in the coming election following Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini -Zuma’s remarkable performance at the African body.
After having served in the AU for four years now, Dlamini-Zuma’s chairmanship ends in June this year. She is said to be a leading candidate earmarked to succeed embattled President Jacob Zuma whose term maybe cut short following the constitutional court ruling on Thursday that found him guilty of flouting the constitution in using public funds to upgrade his Nkandla private residence.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation released a statement yesterday confirming Moitoi’s candidature, citing that as the candidate for the Southern African region, Venson-Moitoi, will compete for the position with candidates’ from other regions of Africa.
The decision by President Khama to release Venson-Moitoi and the possible subsequent victory in the contestation will leave Serowe South constituency vacant – which will naturally warrant a bye election and a ministerial vacancy.
Serowe South is a well-known stronghold of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) with Venson-Moitoi having safely won the seat with a margin of more than 7 000 votes against Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s Brigadier Iphemele Kgokgothwane in 2014.
The Minister of MoFAIC is expected to consult with a possibility of bidding farewell to the constituents next week after she returns from a long leave. She was first elected to Parliament in 1999 and ever since then she has been enjoying landslide victories.
Former Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) Chairperson Louis Sibanda, a close ally of Venson-Moitoi, is seen as a strong contender to succeed her – should she win the AU chairperson bid. Another hopeful, Sefane Phuthego may have dented his chances by contesting against her in the previous 2014 BDP primary election.
Indications suggest that the incumbent Serowe South legislator will further consult with President Khama on the contestation as they might differ somewhere while at AU – hence the dialogue is necessary. While at AU, the duo may differ in ratifying some treaties notwithstanding that they have worked under the same government.
It is expected that the elections for the position will be held during the 27th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU, which will take place from 17 to 18 June in Kigali, Rwanda.
It is understood that the decision to endorse Minister Venson-Moitoi as candidate for the AU Chairperson-ship “was taken at the meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Southern Africa Region held in Gaborone on the 23rd March 2016”.
This publication has established that 10 SADC countries have endorsed Venson-Moitoi including their rival Zimbabwe with whom they have had differences in the past over Robert Mugabe’s legitimacy as a President following disputed elections.
Botswana has ruffled a few feathers through her roof-top diplomacy pinned on its constitutional obligations and shrewd principles based on human rights, rule of law and effective democracy. They have almost not spared any country in denouncing against flouting and inconsistency in the said principles.
In the past, Botswana has broken ranks with fellow African countries with regards to affiliation to the International Criminal Court (ICC). When others in the continent denounced the Court for its double standards saying it targeted African leaders and turned a blind eye to western countries, Botswana rooted for it.
The country still uses the death penalty which is entrenched in its constitution and this has rubbed other countries the wrong way including neighbouring South Africa. Botswana is also known for her abhorrence to gay rights, which is against most western countries agenda however, recently the CoA ruled in favour of a homosexual organization, LEGABIBO and ordered it was free to register.
It remains to be seen whether this rooftop diplomacy will affect Botswana (represented by Venson-Moitoi)’s performance for the AU top post in the next 3 months when African countries look for a replacement for exiting Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who made history as the first woman AU chair in 50 years. Moitoi will be the second, should she win.
WeekendPost has also gathered that AU Chairmanship rotates amongst the African regions, but a lot of people felt that the SADC region may continue, and it is still unclear if they (other regions) will field candidates in the contestation.
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission is the Chief Executive Officer, legal representative of the AU and the Commission’s Accounting Officer. The Chairperson also exercises executive functions in the running of the AU affairs and is responsible for the delivery of the agenda of the Organisation aimed at advancing greater continental integration for a more prosperous Africa.
The AU Commission comprises of the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and eight (8) Commissioners of peace and security; political affairs; trade and industry; infrastructure and energy; social affairs; rural economy and agriculture; human resources, science and technology; and economic affairs.
In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa recently told his parliament that the deployment of his army to Mozambique had cost close to a billion rand, with the exact figure placed at R984,368, 057. On the other hand, the Botswana government is yet to say a word on their budget concerning the deployment.
In his National Assembly report tabled last week Tuesday, Ramaphosa said:
“This serves to inform the National Assembly that I have authorized the employment of 1,495 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for service in fulfillment of an international obligation towards SADC, to assist Mozambique combat acts of terrorism and violent extremists in the Caba Delgado province. This deployment had cost close to a billion rand, with the exact figure placed at R984,368,057.”
The soldiers, he said, are expected to remain there for the next three months.
Botswana, however, is yet to publicize its expenditure. Asked by this publication over why they have not and whether they will, the Minister of Defence, Justice, and Security, Kagiso Mmusi, said they would when the time is right.
“As you may be aware, nobody planned for this. It was not budgeted for. We had to take our BDF resources to Mozambique, and we are still doing our calculations. We also need to replace what we took from the BDF to Mozambique,” he said.
This week, President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi revealed that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Botswana government would share the sustainment of the Mozambique military combat deployment. SADC has given Botswana its share to use according to its needs.
The costs in such deployments are typically categorized into three parts-boots on the ground or handling the system, equipment, and operational sustenance logistics.
It is unknown how much combat pay, danger pay, or sustenance allowance the soldiers will get upon return. However, President Masisi has assured the soldiers that they will get their money.
Masisi has said deployment comes when the country is faced with economic challenges that have been exacerbated to a great extent by the COVID-19 Pandemic, which is inflicting enormous health, financial, and social damage to all nations.
Botswana has sent 296 soldiers who left on Monday to Mozambique to join the SADC standby force.
Parliament fumes over being snubbed
In the 1994 Lesotho mission, the Botswana Parliament was engaged after the soldiers were long deployed. A repeat of history this week saw members of parliament grilling the executive over snubbing parliament and keeping it in the dark about the Mozambique military deployment.
Zimbabwe pledges 304 soldiers
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has pledged 304 soldiers to the SADC Standby Force Mission in Mozambique to train an infantry battalion-size unit at a time, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has said.
In a statement to journalists, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the contingent would consist of 303 instructors and one specialist officer to coordinate the SADC Force Headquarters in Maputo.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said that in terms of Section 214 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Parliament would be informed accordingly.
During the Extraordinary Summit of the 16-member regional bloc held in Maputo, Mozambique, last month, member states resolved to deploy a force to help Mozambique contain insurgency in its northern provinces where terrorists have left a trail of destruction that also threatens regional peace.
Former director general of the Directorate of Intelligence Service, Isaac Kgosi has been awarded doctorate in International and Diplomatic Studies by a Slovenian institution-New University after successfully defending his doctoral dissertation last year.
The institution‘s website shows that in February 2020 Kgosi defended his dissertation titled ‘Southern African Development Community [SADC] Diplomatic Conflict Management Response for Enhancing Human Security: The Case of Mozambique.’
“Faculty of government and European Studies hereby certifies that Seabelo Isaac Kgosi born in Francistown, on 15th December 1958 completed all obligations of the international and Diplomatic Studies doctoral programme on March 22,2021. On these grounds the Faculty of Government and European Studies is conferring upon him the scientific title of Doctor of Science in International and Diplomatic Studies, abbr:PhD,” reads the institution’s conferment certificate dated O6 July 2021.
Kgosi’s thesis was a study of SADC’s mediation and diplomacy in the Mozambican conflict that is mainly between the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) government and forces of the National Resistance (Renamo) that was once mediated by the late former president Sir Ketumile Masire in 2016 when it re-emerged after a revival by Renamo in 2012, driven by several grievances including allegations of economic marginalisation, regional economic imbalances and breach of the 1992 Rome General Peace Accords which had ended the post-independence civil war fought from 1977 to 1992. The escalation of conflict in Mozambique in early 2016 resulted in displacement of citizens in affected areas whilst thousands of people crossed the borders into Malawi and eastern Zimbabwe as refugees.
Efforts to search for and locate the document were unsuccessful at the time of going for press.
Kgosi’s curriculum vitae suggests that he has a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Intelligence and Security obtained from Brunel University, a public research university located in Uxbridge, West London, United Kingdom. The latter qualification was obtained in 2007.
It is not yet known on whether Kgosi will use his qualifications to seek employment locally or internationally, or will decide to open a consultancy firm in line with his experience and academic achievements once the dust surrounding him goes way.
The former spy chief is currently fighting to clear his name in a series of cases against the state, which accuses him of owing the tax man, capturing images of the intelligence agents, as well as their identity between the 18th and 25th February 2019 as well as the identity cards of the officers engaged in a covert operation of the DIS. He is also accused of instructing Bank of Botswana (BoB) to open three bank accounts that were used to loot public funds amounting to over P100 billion together with former president Lt Gen Ian Khama.
Kgosi has countered on all the cases demanding the evidence which links him to the crimes levelled against him, all of which the state is currently struggling to submit before the courts. The state has lost and appealed the photographs case while the P100 billion case has been described as a big lie by various institutions.
Despite the President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Namibian counterpart, Hage Geingob giving an impression that the borderline security disputes are a thing of the past and that diplomatic ties remain tight, fresh developments from Namibia suggest otherwise, following Geingod’s close confidante’s attack on Botswana and its army.
Giving a Zambezi region state of the affairs last week, a Geingob-appointed governor of Zambezi region, Colonel Lawrence Ampofu, a retired Colonel in the Namibian Defence Force, former plan combatant during the liberation struggle of Namibia, in a written speech, charged at the BDF and condemned their killings of the Namibians as unacceptable.
“The security situation within our borders remains calm. The incidence of the Botswana Defence Force shootings and wanton killings on the Nchindo Brothers on 05 November 2020 and other 37 Namibian lives lost since independence remain a serious challenge with our neighbor, Botswana.
Our residents living along the Chobe, Linyanti and Kwandu rivers are living under constant threats, harassment, fear, intimidation and killings and such activities are condemned and not acceptable,” he said under the safety and security title.
The attack suggests that Namibia has not bought Botswana’s story. Ampofu was part of the entourage that accompanied Geingob to the three Nchindo brothers and their cousin who were gunned down by the BDF, and is reported to be privy to the details of the unpublished Botswana-Namibia joint investigations report about the killings as a governor or political head of the region which has eight electoral constituencies.
The report contains the sensitive details of how the three Namibians referred as poachers by the BDF – and Fisherman by the Namibian government were gunned down on 5 November last year along the Chobe River. They were Tommy (48), Martin (40) and Wamunyima Nchindo (36), and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44).
His views are not really in contrast to his President’s views who also described the BDF as trigger happy in a scripted report to his cabinet.
The Zambezi region is located in the extreme north east part of Namibia and covers a total of 14,667.6 square kilometres. “We share borders with Angola, Zambia to the north, Zimbabwe to the east and Botswana to the South,” he said.
Sampofu was first appointed governor of the former Caprive Region in 2010 by the former Namibian president, Hifikepunye Pohamba and was reappointed as Zambezi governor by President Dr.Hage Geingob in 2015, a term running to 2025.
37 Namibia residents killed by Botswana army so far
Sampofu is a man who continues to insist that Botswana has killed 37 residents of his region. A video posted by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) shows him alleging that at least 37 Namibians were killed by the BDF, after he met with the community at Impalila.
“It is true, the BDF started long ago. As we speak 37 lives have been lost here in Impalila along the Chobe river going to Linyanti and Kwado rivers up to Lizauli. All those families lost their loved ones,” Ampofu said in the video posted by NBC.
It is not known how the BDF, which has maintained their position that the Namibians were engaging in illegal activities of poaching, treats the constant attacks by the Namibian authorities, but they have repeatedly vowed to continue protecting the country’s sovereignty and natural resources.