Southern Africa: Botswana Stakeholder in Mozambique Democracy

Maputo — Botswana attaches great value to Mozambique's democratic dispensation, says the country's high commissioner to Mozambique, Mr Gobe Pitso.

Speaking in an interview yesterday, he said Mr Filipe Nyusi's inauguration and swearing-in ceremony scheduled for today was a celebration of consolidated democracy in SADC and the African continent.

"This inauguration is an important milestone for people of Mozambique and the SADC sub-region and the Africa continent," he said.

Mr Pitso further said President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi's scheduled attendance of the event was key in the sense that Botswana played an integral part in Mozambique's peace process as the only country in Africa to do so. Since the 1992 peace accord, Mozambique has held six consecutive general elections , the latest last year.

"Botswana has played an integral part in the Mozambique peace process, pre-dating 1992, as the first meeting held between the then President Joaquim Chissano and the late leader of RENAMO, Afonso Dlakama was held in Gaborone on September 18, 1992. It was the first meeting that was held in the continent, right to the signing of the Rome Statute and Botswana has been an integral part of all the peace process initiatives in Mozambique", he stated.

Botswana and Mozambique, he noted, also had a common outlook and shared similar principles on democracy, good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Mr Pitso said because of Botswana's values of peace, democracy and transparency, it was the only African country chosen by Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) and Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) to be part of the peace process.

"In this regard, we are members of the peace contact group which is the peace group committee in Mozambique since inception and have been playing an active role," he said.

He however noted that over the years other countries were involved to help speed up the peace process.

The high commissioner revealed that Botswana recently contributed P1 million to the Mozambique peace process basket fund.

"The reason for contributing is that a peace process has reached a stage where there is reintegration of the RENAMO residual forces into the community, which is an important part of the peace process. As a member of the peace process we should take a lead," he said.

On other issues, Mr Pitso said President Masisi was at the forefront of engaging strategic partners towards implementation of the Ponte Techobanine port project.

He said President Masisi, as Botswana's principal diplomat, had taken the leadership role and thereby making it easier for the high commission to do follow-ups on the project.

Mr Pitso said Mozambique was a strategic partner to Botswana because of its market access to the east and would therefore facilitate the country's exports.

He pointed out that one of the key agreements signed during President's Masisi 2018 state visit to Mozambique was on bilateral air services which gave Botswana access to Mozambican market and enabled Mozambican Airlines to fly to Botswana.

President Masisi's entourage includes First Lady Neo Masisi, Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation, Dr Unity Dow, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka and MP for Okavango, Mr Kenny Kapinga.

They are expected to return home later today.

Source : BOPA

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