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Diamonds for Development [Rush Transcript; Federal News Service]

Speaker: Festus G. Mogae, President of Botswana
Presider: Richard C. Holbrooke, President and CEO, Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS; Vice Chairman, Perseus LLC
October 10, 2006
Council on Foreign Relations New York, NY

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RICHARD C. HOLBROOKE: Welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations for what I know is going to be a tremendous and interesting breakfast with one of the great leaders of Africa, President Mogae of Botswana.

This event is being webcast, so we also have some questions from people outside New York, and I welcome all of them.

We’re going to get right down to business here, so I don’t want to give you the lengthy—an extraordinary biography of President Mogae, except to say that he has served in Washington. He’s been minister of finance. He has been vice president, leader of the Botswana National Assembly, and he is truly one of the most visionary leaders of Africa.

We’re going to go right into the discussion, and we have a lot to cover. I want to cover Diamonds for Development, HIV/AIDS, environmental issues, issues of the region, and any other issues that may be on your mind.

I don’t know how many of you have been to Botswana. I’ve been there three times, and I think I can say—and I don’t think anyone who’s ever been there would disagree—that it’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world and one of the most promising, although, like any country in Africa today, it faces problems, some of them caused by its neighbors.

But I want to start on a very light note, which the president agreed he would address. Many people have not been to your country, Mr. President; know it only through the novels of Alexander McCall Smith, which are obviously delightful. But people, when they read them, wonder if this reflects the real Botswana or a Botswana that used to exist.

So with that as a—tell us how accurate the novels are, and then tell us a little bit about the culture of Botswana, a country which exists through historical circumstance, and then we’ll get into some of the tougher questions. And welcome to New York, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT FESTUS G. MOGAE: Thank you very much.

Yes, I would say that they are relatively true. But, as to be expected, they are novels. Therefore, they—(inaudible)—the truth about 20 years ago. That’s how I would characterize them.

HOLBROOKE: Your country today faces a large number of problems and a large number of opportunities. Botswana gets most of its revenue from diamonds and tourism. So let’s start with diamonds. You have a great company in Botswana—

MOGAE: Yes.

HOLBROOKE:—Debswana, which I have had an opportunity to visit and work with. They have a very good program on HIV/AIDS. And a film is about to come out starring Leonardo DiCaprio about blood diamonds. When I was at the United Nations, we passed resolutions on blood diamonds, and the Kimberley Process was put into place, which I think was a big step forward.

President Festus Mogae with Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke

I should make clear to everyone, this film has nothing to do with Botswana. It’s set in Sierra Leone. It was a colossal problem in Sierra Leone and remains a lesser one. And the U.N. resolutions and the Kimberley Process were designed to reduce the problem.

Tell us how you feel about this issue and what Botswana is doing specifically to use diamonds for general development in your country.

MOGAE: Well, we call our diamonds development diamonds, because we derive 50 percent of our national budget from diamonds and 70 percent of our exports, 70 percent of foreign exchange earnings annually. (Inaudible)—diamonds directly, diamond mining, and processing directly employ about 8,000 people in Botswana. The industry employs about 28,000 in the region as a whole—Botswana, South Africa, Namibia—but about 8,000 in Botswana. So it’s an important employer in a country where employment generation is one of our greatest challenges.

And as for the revenues, we use them for development. I could also give you a few indicators. I think—(inaudible)—about 10 percent. Now it’s 90 percent, because we are able to provide free education because of diamond revenues. We provide near-universal health coverage for our citizens, such that even in the remotest parts of Botswana, nobody’s more than 10 miles or 16 kilometers from a health facility.

Now our rural communities have clean water. Now, in conjunction with the general assistance we have received from institutions here, we are able to provide free antiretroviral therapy, free antiretroviral therapy to everybody who needs it. And at present we have about 68,000 people under therapy.

HOLBROOKE: And Merck and Gates have been very involved.

MOGAE: Merck and Gates, they’ve been very involved.

HOLBROOKE: You have representatives of Merck in the room.

MOGAE: Yes. So that’s the general assistance to which I’m referring.

We also, of course, work with the Habadi (ph) Institute. We have built a laboratory, and they operate it. So they are our partners in that. So diamond revenues have enabled us to provide counterpart contributions for the general assistance we are receiving from friends abroad. And as I say, we are providing virtually free health even outside the AIDS pandemic. We are providing free health, free education and clean water for our people. So diarrheal diseases are generally not known in Botswana despite of being a developing country.

So we are (not ?) diamond-dependent country, and we use diamonds for development. And those are the indicators, the social indicators. As a result, of course, we have had—well, maybe partly as a result, we have had (no strife ?). The World Bank has just produced a report which ranked us as the most socially-politically stable country in Africa and among the most stable in the world.

We boast of transparent, accountable governance, so that the utilization of diamond and other revenues and revenues that we receive from friends abroad are accountably utilized for social development. All the things I am saying are verifiable.

HOLBROOKE: We have one question from J.D. Bindenagel, whom you may remember, who I worked with closely both in Germany and at the U.N., who is in charge of the Kimberley Process and the conflict diamonds issue. He’s sent in a question from Chicago, which is a follow-up on the Kimberley Process.

You feel it’s working, and J.D. Bindenagel wants to know how we can ensure that governments and the industry remain committed to its implementation.

MOGAE: I’d say—(inaudible)—as co-founders of the process together with you, when you were at the U.N., are as committed then as we are now. In the first place, we were never involved in conflict diamonds. And as I say, we have no conflict.

But I think we are preaching democracy and accountability in Africa, and that’s part of the Kimberley Process, because conflict diamonds have come about as a result of lack of democracy and accountability, and partly because of greed in those parts of Africa where it has occurred.

Currently we are chairpersons of the process, and we will be having a review meeting later this year, and I’ll be coming to report to the U.N. As far as we can see, it’s going on very well. But then it’s an evolving system. There could be witnesses here and there. But I would say that such witnesses as may exist, as far as we’re concerned, would be involuntary, the ones that would be happening in spite of government and the industry. And certainly, as far as we can see, everybody’s committed to the process.

And in any case, objectively, right now, at least 99 percent of the diamonds are produced from areas in which there’s no conflict. Botswana alone counts for close to 30 percent of global output, as you know, and maybe a little higher percentage if you take Africa alone. And then there is South Africa and there is Namibia, and there’s no conflict in these areas. And all the other governments, of course, who are members, we are trying to strictly enforce the certification system.

You are aware—well, I don’t know that the audience is aware—the Kimberley Process consists of producer governments, consumer governments, like you, the largest consumer of diamonds in the world, and NGOs, and then the industry itself. We try to have a trace-back system so that any diamonds that are produced and transported across borders must be certificated, and those—(inaudible)—should demand that certificate, et cetera, et cetera.

HOLBROOKE: We’ll get back to the diamonds issue in the Q&A.

MOGAE: Yes.

HOLBROOKE: You mentioned already AIDS. And it’s difficult to talk about Botswana without turning to this terrible issue. Many people in the room represent members of the Global Business Coalition, which you’re familiar with and which is how I first met you. And both our current director and our former director, John Tedstrom and Trevor Nielsen, are both here. And at least a dozen companies are represented here around the room which are supporting the effort.

So let me talk about your historic switch on the testing last year. Could you first—as we understand it, you switched to an opt-out system.

MOGAE: Yes.

HOLBROOKE: You were the first country in the world to do that. Could you explain how it works in Botswana? And is it effective? I say how it works, because Lesotho and Malawi followed you. Now the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and the health authorities in both New York City and the District of Columbia, and probably other places, have all advocated following your model. But there are a lot of details about it that can vary from place to place. How do you do it? And do you have any evidence that it’s making a difference?

MOGAE: Yes, what we did was we have a system called—(inaudible). We went throughout the country to explain the necessity for people to know their status. We said, “Look, now assistance is available. If you are HIV-positive, it’s no longer a death sentence. You can be assisted. You’re provided with antiretrovirals free. But you need to know in time your status so that if you are negative, you stay negative, and if you are positive and you are in need of treatment, you will be provided with the treatment.” And so we said, “Well, everybody should test, and that we are going to test everybody. But if you don’t want a test, you can then opt out.”

But to our surprise, the response was quite positive. People said yes. Those who don’t want to be tested would be able to opt out. And that’s how it works.

HOLBROOKE: And how—

MOGAE: Previously to that, we had specialized places which we called counseling—(inaudible)—centers. And what made us switch from—what we feared was that some people were not testing because of stigma, because when you went to these special clinics, people already assumed that you must be sick; that’s why you are going there. And we had tried to fight that, and it didn’t seem to work. So we said that this—(inaudible)—testing would be available at both those clinics and at all public health facilities.

HOLBROOKE: What percentage of the people opt out?

MOGAE: I can’t say categorically. What I can say is that, for instance, about 300—since the general testing started, about 300,000 new clients have been tested, and that from March 2004 to March 2006, the number of (interested ?) clients per quarter rose from 12,536 to 242,623 per quarter, every three months. So we have seen these dramatic improvements.

HOLBROOKE: This is—obviously those of you who are members of the Global Business Coalition know that this has been a very strong theme that we’ve been advocating.

MOGAE: And also—

HOLBROOKE: And the question, therefore, is, do you think it makes a difference in the prevalence rate once people know their status? If they are not HIV-positive, will they be more careful in their sexual behavior and take precautions, and therefore slow down the spread? Because that’s the key.

MOGAE: When people have tested and they are negative, they come out very upbeat about it.

HOLBROOKE: And it has behavior modification.

MOGAE: And it has behavior modification. Since this program started, the number of those testing has increased—the number of those testing positive has decreased from 47.7 percent for the quarter ending March 2004 to 30.6 for the quarter ending March 2006.

HOLBROOKE: That’s an encouraging drop, Mr. President, but I think everyone in the room should consider what those two numbers are. In March of 2004, 47 percent of the people tested were positive. Now it’s down to 30 percent, which is still a staggering number. For your great country, with so much promise, it’s still a very high number.

MOGAE: It is.

HOLBROOKE: We’ll get back to questions on this in a minute.

Let me move on to cover all the major issues; environmental issues. Let me ask a question. How many of the people here have been to Botswana? (Show of hands.) Wow, that’s pretty good, Mr. President. That’s not a national sample, unfortunately. (Laughter.)

How many of you have been to the Okavango? (Show of hands.) I think anyone who raised their hand and anyone who’s ever seen films of the Okavango will agree that in the world of spectacular things, including other safaris in Africa, this one is beyond imagination.

But there are some issues in the Okavango, and one of them involves the water. And I know that Namibia has different ideas about what the water—what should happen with the water.

How does that issue stand? Are you going to be able to preserve, against growing population, water diversion issues; the issue of elephants, who are both the most beautiful creatures and also the most destructive in many ways of the Okavango? Are you going to be able to preserve this? And what is going on with Namibia on the waters of the Okavango?

MOGAE: We think we are going to be able to do so. The Namibians first had the idea of extracting a certain percentage. By mutual agreement, they had to do an environment impact study, which they did, and it was debated by the organization. We have an organization called Opracam (ph), consisting of Namibia—(inaudible)—Zimbabwe, Zambia and Angola. And they were discouraged from that, so they abandoned that project.

They then said they were going to build a hydroelectric (scheme ?), which again, the environmental impact showed that they do have less and less adverse impact than (the extraction ?), but they still have temporary disruption while the reservoir is being built or the barrier is being built.

But again, for now they have gone back on that, because we have other regional schemes. So I would say, for now, and for the foreseeable future, Namibia’s plans have been diverted away from diverting waters of the Okavango, because we have other (regional schemes ?).

HOLBROOKE: Is tourism rising rapidly in Botswana?

MOGAE: It is.

HOLBROOKE: Do you have the infrastructure to both allow people to enjoy it without destroying the very thing they’re trying to enjoy?

MOGAE: We have adequate infrastructure. But as you know, we have this policy of low volume, high value. So you have been there. Well, as an American, you may not have noticed, but (we consider it ?) very expensive.

HOLBROOKE: We noticed. (Laughter.)

MOGAE: So that it’s precisely because we are not aiming at mass tourism precisely because of the delicateness of the ecosystem. We are very acutely aware of that.

HOLBROOKE: Do you permit elephant culls, or do you—are elephants 100 percent protected?

MOGAE: Up to now they are 100 percent protected. But they are a problem. They are increasing at 5 percent. We have discussed with (SITIS ?), the national organization, what should be done. We have tried donating elephants to our neighbors, such as Angola, but translocations are very expensive.

We have donated about 100 elephants to Angola. They have caught and translocated 30; a similar number to Mozambique. They haven’t been able to do anything. And the elephant-(human ?) conflict is increasing. They are now spreading out even in areas from which they were not previously. So we are still worried about that.

HOLBROOKE: It’s a tremendous problem. I spent about a week on an elephant safari, and I had never realized, till I spent four or five days on top of an elephant, what an elephant does.

MOGAE: Yes.

HOLBROOKE: The speed with which the elephants were demolishing the forest was unbelievable. They would find one single leaf at the top of a tree which looked delicious, and that was the end of the tree. (Laughter.) But still, I’m wearing an elephant tie this morning—Asian elephant, however.

MOGAE: That’s all right. If you went on elephant safari and it was in Botswana—

HOLBROOKE: Yes, it was.

MOGAE:—that’s not the worst part. If you went to Kasane, such as Senator Frist and others—four senators went there, and they saw the destruction in the Chobe area. You went to Okavango. In the Chobe area, there the destruction is total—

HOLBROOKE: That’s interesting.

MOGAE:—because the elephants are estimated at 125,000 right now, and increasing. So sooner or later we are going to have to do something, some form of culling, because the methods we have tried are failing.

We also once donated to a gentleman who said he would take 100 elephants, smaller elephants, and distribute them to parks and zoos. So he caught 50. But while he was using Sri Lankan makout (ph) to train them, some people objected to the way—the methods they were using. That was in South Africa. And so he was involved in litigation for quite a number of—for about two years. So he never came back for the remaining 50. So we are very generous with the elephants.

HOLBROOKE: So if any of you want an elephant—(laughter) --

MOGAE: (Inaudible.)

HOLBROOKE: We have a question from Massachusetts, Mr. President, from William Cotter of the Oak and Robertson Foundation.

“Thank you for your leadership of this wonderful country, a model for the world in true democracy, fiscal responsibility, multiracial understanding and judicious use of resources. What is Botswana and its neighbors doing to bring true democracy and restore economic health to Zimbabwe? When can the world expect positive change in that tragic country, which borders Botswana?”

MOGAE: I would want to say that when I shall have briefed you enough about Botswana, I shall use my best endeavors to brief you about Zimbabwe. But we, as Botswana, in our interaction with all our neighbors, (sell ?) multiparty democracy and accountable governance.

You know that at SADC we have drawn up guidelines for elections. And we observe elections. The SADC parliamentary forum sent its observers, like the elections that were taking place in Zambia, which have taken place in Zambia recently, and the individual countries do show. But where there are—(inaudible)—we can really, as Botswana, but also as SADC, we try to lead by precept and example and persuasion. And that’s what we are doing. We are using our best endeavors to persuade everybody in the region—

HOLBROOKE: And how many refugees are you getting from Zimbabwe now?

MOGAE: About 1,000 to 2,000 a month.

HOLBROOKE: A month. So 10,000 to 12,000 a—oh, actually more; 20,000 a year, probably.

MOGAE: But the 10—well, that’s the number—(inaudible) a month. (Laughs.) So we assume that. It’s a vicious cycle.

HOLBROOKE: One last question from J.D. Bindenagel, to go back to diamonds, and then we’ll throw it open to the floor.

“Do you support the Kimberley Process’ suspension of rough diamond exports from Ghana, given the reports of diamond smuggling from rebel-controlled areas of the Ivory Coast into Ghana? And what can be done to develop regional diamond industry assistance programs to control cross-border trade?”

MOGAE: Definitely we support the Kimberley Process. And if some such—(inaudible)—is happening, it must be stopped. We would support a suspension of trading in diamonds that are suspect, because they’d be a contaminant in the legitimate diamond trade.

HOLBROOKE: The floor is open to questions, comments for President Mogae. Anyone who wants an elephant should fill out a form on their way out. (Laughter.)

Why don’t you identify yourself? But I will identify the first questioner, because he’s a close friend. Kofi Appenteng is the chairman of the African-American Institute, which gave you, if I’m not mistaken, an award a few years ago. Is that right, Kofi?

QUESTIONER: Yes, we were privileged to do that.

My question is that you mentioned that about 70 percent of your exports are diamonds and the diamond industry, I guess, diamond-related activity.

MOGAE: Well, our export revenues—(inaudible).

QUESTIONER: Right, export revenues. What efforts are you making to try to diversify your economy? And what are some of the major constraints you’re facing so that you’re not so reliant on one industry?

MOGAE: Well, we had tried to liberalize our economy. We have an economy dependent on international trade. We have one of the lowest taxes in the region. We invite investors. We have tried to minimize bureaucracy. The Australian Mining General Resources and now the World Bank have graded us the freest economy in Africa in terms of openness for private-sector development, including and especially direct foreign investment.

So we’re using our best endeavors. Even now, as we go around, we’re trying to invite investors. But we have the disadvantage that for most companies, we are landlocked, far from the coasts, but we think we’ll ultimately succeed. Instead, what is happening is that we are seeing more investment in the mining sector. We have a 5 billion U.S. dollar coal mining project for electricity generation, and we have also 650 million U.S. dollar project in smelter technology, which is also Australian.

So we are receiving more investment. But the (question ?) still is in the mining sector as of now. The—(inaudible)—of growth and expansion is investment in tourism facilities. But we are very anxious to diversify away from the excessive dependence on diamond revenues.

We (seem to be ?) succeeding in that subsector to reduce dependence on diamonds within the mining sector. But we are not yet succeeding in reducing dependence on mining, because we’re still dependent on not only diamond revenues but also on copper, nickel mining, and some gold. We have a new gold mine; not a large one, unfortunately. And then we extract soda ash from—(inaudible)—deposits, which are also exports. But it’s mostly extractive industry, so we seem to be caught in that.

 

 

QUESTIONER: Karen Monaghan, the Council on Foreign Relations.

President, Asian governments and Asian companies, particularly from China and India, are making large inroads into Africa, to many African countries. Could you comment on the implications of this, particularly in areas such as transparency and good governance and the risk that other countries will face the resource curse, such as Dutch Disease and corruption?

MOGAE: That is a very complex question. So far as the Chinese are concerned, yes, that’s happening. As for China, we think it’s a good thing. After all, we welcome investors from all countries. We think all investors must be treated fairly, be subjected to the law of the land, environmental considerations be taken into account.

I don’t know whether you are implying there is a special link between the Chinese and corruption. I don’t know. There has been lack of transparent and accountable governance in Africa in the past, but for now we have been reforming. And I can speak confidently that in the SADC region, we now have put in place anticorruption arrangements so that any investors can be attracted.

HOLBROOKE: Bob.

QUESTIONER: Good morning, Mr. President. Bob Orr from the United Nations.

A question about the African Union and the prospects for this experiment, if I may call it that, given some of the challenges that the AU is facing in Darfur. What do you think the prospects are for consolidating the African Union? And are there ways to ensure that the African Union doesn’t break itself in the struggle to address the problems in Darfur?

MOGAE: We support the involvement of the U.N. in Darfur. We support the actions that have been taken by the African Union. But the African Union has the limitation that you have mentioned, and that therefore we think that the involvement of the U.N. is legitimate and necessary and that, therefore, the assistance that the African Union needs can be provided through the involvement of the U.N. as a whole.

I don’t think, with all the good will in the world, at present the African Union does not have the capacity to adequately deal with the situation in Darfur. And I think what they have done is the right thing.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Princeton Lyman from the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mr. President, there was a negotiation underway between the Southern African Customs Union and the United States to negotiate a free trade agreement. Those negotiations seem to have broken down. Can you indicate what happened in that negotiation and if there’s any prospect of reviving them?

MOGAE: There is still the intention to negotiate free trade arrangement to the United States, as indeed we are going to be negotiating with the EU a similar arrangement.

I think there are problems with your demand that you should be represented in our trade unions. I have not been directly involved, but there was a sticking point about labor legislation and your involvement. I think we felt our sovereignty threatened or something like that, and we objected. But we still have every intention of negotiating. I don’t think—they have been disrupted for the time being, but I don’t think they have been abandoned, no.

HOLBROOKE: John.

QUESTIONER: John Hirsch

Mr. President, HIV-AIDS is prevalent in most of the countries of southern Africa, your neighbors, as well as in Botswana. To what extent is that a threat or a danger to controlling HIV/AIDS in Botswana? And to what extent are you able to collaborate with the heads of state and health officials in your neighboring countries?

MOGAE: We are now able to collaborate. But as you are aware, the others, their response was late compared to ours. But now everybody’s convinced, and we are working collaboratively. But, yes, there are challenges; for instance, the wider or universal coverage in Botswana versus the partial coverage in the other countries.

We have problems of people coming from the other countries into Botswana in order to receive treatment. And we have said that we could not afford to provide free treatment to everybody who comes. Those are some of the problems. But at least everybody is using their best endeavors to provide—(inaudible)—prevention problems. And this general testing is something you are selling to your neighbors. And they seem to be agreeable, at least in principle.

HOLBROOKE: Mr. President, talking about AIDS, there were some people outside the Council this morning who were raising the issue of the bushmen of the central Kalahari game reserve. Do you want to say a word on that issue?

MOGAE: Well, as I say, we don’t distinguish between our citizens. And we provide social services to all our citizens, including those in the remote parts of our country, which we call remote area—(inaudible). That includes the bushmen and other groups. We provide free education and free health services for all.

We think that the bushmen deserve education. Their children must be vaccinated. They must be entitled to clean water, which we are providing to everybody. So we make no distinction between the bushmen and others. And people in the rural areas are entitled to free services, as I have said. So—(inaudible)—we don’t see that as a problem.

We have about eight game parks or game reserves. These game reserves must have been hunting areas or (ranching ?) areas for one group or other. And so our policy is that people must live in the periphery of the game reserves, and the reserves be used for tourism. And we have arrangement whereby licenses—to operate as license fees, you create community trusts so that the communities benefit from some of the tourist revenues. That applies to universal. There is no special arrangement for the central Kalahari.

QUESTIONER: Jim Dingeman, INN World Report.

Mr. President, could you comment on your opinion on the effectiveness of the various measures that have been implemented to control illicit diamond trafficking for the past decade in Africa, since we know that UNITA in Angola was partly financed by illicit diamond trafficking and the conflicts in West Africa? The DRC, et cetera, have been fueled by this. I just want your comments on how you see the status of these are now.

MOGAE: I think I can speak with some confidence that, so far as Angola is concerned, there are no atrocities and no conflict in Angola at the present time. And on the contrary, measures have been taken to rehabilitate the refugees and people who had been (driven ?), displaced internally. So I would say in Angola, I am quite happy.

You are also aware that as the SADC region, but also the AU, were involved together with the United Nations in organizing elections in DRC. Again, there is no evidence at the present time that in the DRC that there are any conflicts taking place in the diamond mining areas. There have been massacres in the eastern province, but they have nothing to do with diamonds.

But we remain concerned with the possibilities of smuggling of diamonds, as reported elsewhere. And we think when we meet as the Kimberley Process later this month, these are the kind of issues we will be looking at. And that’s why I’ve just said that, no, we would support suspension of trade with any particular area where there is evidence that smuggling of conflict diamonds is taking place.

At the present time, as you know, those countries, like the DRC in Angola, are not yet members of the Kimberley Process. But we are asking them to become members.

QUESTIONER: Hi, Mr. President. I’m Amina Tirana with the U.N. Development Program.

In a follow-on question, and perhaps going back to Mr. Holbrooke’s first question, given the importance of diamonds and minerals in general to Botswana and all of southern Africa, are you then concerned about the publicity or the perceptions that will come out of what might or might not be a high-profile movie on this topic?

MOGAE: Yes, I am apprehensive that it could have that effect. I haven’t seen the movie myself. It is my hope, however, that people will realize that this is a fictionalized version of an unpleasant incident that occurred in an African country, in particular Sierra Leone. I would hope that the presenters of the movie are objective. Otherwise we have no objection against the movie sending a message and demonstrating what greed and lack of accountability can do.

But, yes, I am concerned, because people may misunderstand the message. That is why we would want people to know that we are as concerned in Africa as everybody else about conflict diamonds. As I say, we attribute it to basically greed and the lack of transparent, accountable governance on the part of governments sometimes.

QUESTIONER: Mr. President, Andrew Rosen, MTV Networks.

As one of the handful of nations that’s taken a border dispute to the International Court of Justice, I was wondering if you could shed some light on what that process was like, but more importantly, in retrospect, how effective the process was, and if you assume that perhaps border disputes between African nations may continue, whether that’s the most effective means in looking at it.

MOGAE: I can only speak from our experience. We took each other to court, the international court, with Namibia. And we agreed that we would abide by the decision of the international court, and we did. We accepted the international court. (In the event ?) we won, but we made sure that it is not a Pyrrhic victory. We still collaborate and have remained friends with the Namibians.

It was regarding the possession of a particular island in the river, the boundary. We have—(inaudible). In fact, we then took advantage of the court case or the outcome of the court case to (set up ?) a boundary commission, so that we have, in fact, now formalized our boundaries.

This joint commission worked for a year, consisting of technical experts from both countries and from outside. And we have settled our dispute. We are very friendly with Namibia. Again, that’s what we would advise our fellow Africans to do, or everybody else, for that matter. We believe in the rule of law. And being (weak ?) states, we believe in the—(inaudible)—by objective outsiders.

HOLBROOKE: Well, Mr. President, I want to thank you for joining us today and answering such a wide range of questions. And perhaps if you have a few more minutes—a lot of people here are your friends, and everyone here is a friend of Botswana—you may want to say hello to a few people in the audience.

But in behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS and African-American Institute and everyone else who cares about Botswana and Africa, I want to thank you very much for joining us today. This has been very valuable for us. Thank you.

MOGAE: Thank you. (Applause.)

Also, let me say that my delegation and I are very grateful to have been given this opportunity. We are really grateful to the likes of you and Mr.—(inaudible)—and others for the opportunity you give us from time to time. I think this is about the fifth or sixth time that I have appeared here. And we appreciate that, being able to explain the problems that we are encountering and the endeavors we are taking about them.

We thank you very much. We are really delighted to have been here. We love you all. (Applause.)

 

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