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Exclusive interview: Botswana's President Masisi on Mozambique crisis

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Botswana

The deadly insurgency in northern Mozambique is posing a threat to other countries in the Southern African Development Community.

The economic bloc of 15 countries has discussed aims to ensure peace in Mozambique.

The president of Botswana, who was in Angola at the beginning of the week, told Euronews in an exclusive interview about the need for the countries of the region to get involved in the search for a common decision that would bind all the capitals.

"Botswana has the current Chair of the Organ, SADC Organ on the Politics, Security in the Region has conveyed meetings to discuss issues of instability in the Region, and more recently has concentrated on the situation in Mozambique," said Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Insecurity in Mozambique

It was confirmed during the summit that progress has been made in finding a solution to the armed violence that has lasted for more than three years in Cabo Delgado.

A SADC technical mission visited the region last month and proposes to send nearly 3,000 troops and military assets to help Mozambique fight the armed groups responsible for the attacks that have wreaked havoc.

"As you might know, the Cabo Delgado Province is under intense attack by insurgents who maim people, behead people, and commit very, very violent atrocities," he told Euronews.

"They remain faceless because we do not know who the leaders are, we do not know what their missions is, what their objectives are, so we have been intervening in the way by way of helping Mozambique, to come to overcome it.

"And the help we offer is the help that is wanted by Mozambique, besides a moral support we give they need capacity to fight the insurgency. So the SADC countries are being engaged Mozambique are helping to secure such.

"We also need to provide support in the humanitarian front, so we do provide support in the humanitarian front. And for a decisive decision that obligates all the SADC, we have recommended and it is since it has been adopted, that a Special Extraordinary Summit be called by the Head of States of SADC in Maputo by the 20th of June."

Cooperation with Angola

Botswana's largest water source originates in Angola. The Mokgweetsi Masisi government therefore, closely monitors the economic development of the Okavango area.

"As we discussed with President Lourenço, we want to enhance cooperation in every space and the beginning point is to understand what the ecology holds, what the environment holds," said Masisi.

"We in Botswana have exploited the terrain and beauty provided by the headwaters from Angola in the Delta, in the particular ways, and it is up to Angola to see if that is what they want to do also, or do something else. As long as wherever is done is sustainable and does not bring harm to the Delta and the waters, we are fine.

"So, we have agreed to cooperate and collaborate. It’s really an open question of what can be done, in the context of the origins of the Delta, the Okavango Delta, waters beginning in Angola and in the KAZA zone.

"I am very glad and thankful to President Lourenço, because they declared 9 million hectares of Angola prime land to be part of a protected area."

Sharing wealth

Angola and Botswana also share another wealth: diamonds.

A sector where the two countries can work together. The president of the country that produces the most diamonds in Africa says that a system of good governance is fundamental.

"I would like Botswana and Angola to move shoulder to shoulder in the area of the diamonds industry, and by then I mean the knowledge base, the technical competencies space, the ability to add value, the ability to market, and the ability to work the downstream, the cutting, polishing, marketing, retailing," said Masisi.

"I would like Botswana and Angola to come together to protect the industry, in terms of any threats to its viability and public threats to its viability is to do with the perception, the concept of what a diamond is."

The president is also critical of diamonds produced in laboratories.

"A diamond is never grown in the lab that is very important perception to get. It is not a diamond. It will never be a diamond it is almost like fake news, so natural diamonds, which are used for good, are the best response that we can give. And, that is a narrative that we need to push together, not separate," he said.

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