FRANCISTOWN: Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) presidential candidate, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has been asked to renounce Malawian citizenship, The Monitor learnt last Friday.
Speaking at the Tati River Lodge Hall last Friday where she was on her campaign trail, Venson-Moitoi who until last year was minister of Local Government and Rural Development decried foul that at 67 and after serving the BDP-led government for 40 years, she was recently asked to renounce her Malawian citizenship. “My biological father originated from Malawi,” said the Serowe-born politician to a quiet hall that was filled to capacity with party diehards kitted on the party’s predominantly red attire. She told the meeting that it was only after so many years of her life that her Malawian citizenship was raised by the government of the day. This comes after she declared her interest to challenge incumbent State President Mokgweetsi Masisi for the party presidency in Kang next month.
“After so many years of my life I was recently told I should go to Malawi and renounce my citizenship which has never been an issue when I was in office serving this government for 40 years,” Venson-Moitoi said amidst laughter, stating that recent instructions to renounce the Malawian citizenship originated from the government, without specifying the exact office. In a post TRL meeting interview, Venson-Moitoi explained: “My brother Tebogo Venson had to renounce when his Omang expired. We were then advised that the family had to come and renounce and this came from the office of Omang.”
Eventually, Venson-Moitoi went to the Omang office, “where they told me that they had since checked the law and that there was no need to panic on renouncing.”
She was quick to wonder: “Do they think they can confuse me with such accusations?” She told the meeting that was attended by party diehards from across the five constituencies that constitute the region of Francistown. Amongst those thronged the Friday meeting included former president Ian Khama, Venson-Moitoi’s chief supporter, councillors and other party leaders.
Venson-Moitoi thundered that, “there are Batswana who live along the borders with other countries and have relatives across such borders and who is really going to speak for some of our people when the government starts wild accusation relating to issues of citizenship.” Against accusations that she was fronting for the former president Khama in her BDP presidential bid, Venson-Moitoi explained that she was simply exercising her democratic right.
“There is no time to entertain people who want to fool others. I believe that I can correct wrongs perpetrated by the current government.”Venson-Moitoi told the meeting that party members do have choice as to who should head the BDP, “as I am available.” She stated that the BDP constitution article 29, which stipulates that any BDP member in good standing is eligible to contest, supports her bid.
Venson-Moitoi considers herself a better candidate, as she said she will work very hard to influence laws to cater for the poorest of the poor, as that’s where she comes from. Of utmost, she encouraged party members to familiarise themselves with the party’s code of conduct especially when it talks about internal elections.
Amongst the issues that former president, Khama, spoke about at the same meeting included his worry about internal party fights during Bulela Ditswe primaries which he said now far outweighs the party’s fights with the opposition parties.
He was worried that things have changed in the BDP as when incumbents are challenged they feel disrespected emphasising that elections are a democratic process of electing leaders fairly.
“Fear to lose a contest, should not teach people to attack others and disregard laid down democratic processes,” he said. Amongst others, he implored BDP members to embrace botho.
After speaking in parable for a while, Khama became clear when he accused President Masisi of intolerance as he said he failed to take Venson-Moitoi’s challenge as a normal thing rather considering it as a sign of disrespect.