‘’It is better to lose a race than to have never ran at all’’- That is Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s philosophy in life. She gave those words of wisdom to the reigning Miss Botswana after she failed to get the coveted Miss World crown late last year. ‘’Botswana was there by your presence, for that we must thank you’’, she wrote in a Twitter message to Thata Kenosi.
Mma V, as she is affectionately addressed by her associates, seems to live her talk. She is currently in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, for the African Union’s 28th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government. She is there as one of the candidates vying for the chairmanship of the AU Commission. The elections, which are on second round after failing to produce a conclusive winner last year, will take place this weekend, on January 30-31. After the disappointment of not clinching the post during the first round of elections in Kigali, Rwanda, some had hoped Venson-Moitoi would throw in the town out of frustration and dejection. She has proved to be a resilient competitor. No doubt, the campaign is taxing both financially, mentally and physically. It requires bucket loads of money to traverse the continent soliciting support from member countries and it must have been very painful for Venson-Moitoi to learn that the elections will go for second running, after she had exhausted all her resources and time on the initial campaign.
The question then becomes, what keeps Mma V going? ‘’ Besides the fact she is a go-getter and a firm subscriber to the notion that it is better to try and fail than to never try at all, the goodwill of this nation has kept her going’’, says one of her campaign team managers. The campaign team official confides that after the first round of elections in Rwanda, Mma V was so exhausted and had lost steam but she quickly got her groove back when she found out that Batswana were rallying behind her. “The support has been amazing. The goodwill from the people and the support from the private sector have been incredible’’, he said. Mma V has crisscrossed the continent and met with several head of states and the feedback from insiders gives a glimmer of hope for the Botswana candidate. She is said to have enjoyed warm reception from African presidents.
Venson-Moitoi has put together a comprehensive road-map, outlining her vision for Africa. She preaches peace, transparency and strong governance as paramount focus areas for Africa to realise its ambitions as a continent. ‘’We need to work together to ensure an integrated, peaceful, developed and prosperous Africa’’, she remarked. She says democracy is deeply rooted in our culture and urged Africa to ensure this due process continues today towards a stronger Africa. Venson-Moitoi did not hesitate to take a swipe at the beleaguered Gambian former president, Jammeh when he refused to step down after losing in the general elections. In a diplomatic tiff, she Tweeted, ‘’The people have spoken. Full stop. Today it is President Barrow of Gambia. Please honour that! It is really that simple. We beg.’’
Mma V is of the view that the transition that Africa needs requires action, not words, as all the words have been spoken. She considers herself to be the right person to get the work done in translating those words into action. ‘’We need to tell our story; of the Africa we want, and the Africa we are shaping. An Africa to be reckoned with’’, she says. As a way of showing that she is in the race for the good of Africa and not necessarily Botswana, Mma V has set up campaign teams in all the African regions. ‘’This is a reflection of who we will be in the African Union Commission, ’’ says the aspiring AUC Chairperson. Former President Festus Mogae is also boosting the campaign by using his influence to sell Venson-Moitoi to African leaders. ‘’ We are grateful of the support we are getting from individuals and the private sector and by the way, this support does not have to be in monetary terms’’, one of the campaign managers said.
He said Mma V is grateful of the moral support and prayers from people who call from all over Africa and from all walks of life. On fears that the newly elected US President Donald Trump may alienate Africa, Mma V has a simple solution; ‘’If we do a really good job securing trade within Africa, then the Trumps will seek us out’’. Mma V received positive reviews after her brilliant deliberation during a televised leadership debate in December where she, together with other aspirants, were given another campaign platform to share their envisaged leadership of the AUC. All eyes and ears will be in Addis Ababa next week Monday as Batswana look forward to Mma V’s victory. Should Venson-Moitoi win the race, she will have to resign as Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament.