Angolan President, Masisi hold first bilateral talks


The first bilateral state visit for Angolan President João Lourenço in Botswana is expected to yield fruits to the people of the two countries. President Lourengo arrived in Botswana yesterday to start the bilateral talks with President Mokgweetsi Masisi and the media will be briefed afterwards on some of the agreements reached.

Masisi has visited Angola three times before. Briefing the media about the Angolan President's visit on Thursday, the director of Africa and the Middle East at Foreign Affairs, Pule Mphothwe said some of the issues that both Presidents might talk about include elephants and human conflict. According to Mphothwe some of the elephants in that country migrated to Botswana during the Angola civil war. “The two countries share a lot in common including wildlife. Again Okavango River borders the two countries and therefore, the Presidents may talk about tourism issues along that river. And also how people who are nearer that river may benefit from tourism and other things,” Mphothwe said. Over the years, Seronga and Eretsha, located in the eastern Okavango panhandle, have been some of the areas hardest hit by human-wildlife conflict involving elephants. “Seronga and many villages along the eastern Okavango panhandle have the worst human-elephant conflict. A number of people have died from being trampled down by elephants, and many farmers lose their crops every season due to elephants,” he said.

The pachyderms, which are estimated to number 130,000 in Botswana, are concentrated in the country’s northwest, around the Okavango Delta where lush wetlands provide ample supplies of the 250 kilogrammes or so elephants need to eat daily. With human-wildlife conflict cases increasing over the years, the government has revealed that it spent P38.4 million in compensating for damage caused by wild animals between the years 2020 and 2021. These are costs incurred by damages caused by elephants and six other wildlife species that attract wildlife compensation namely lion, leopard, hippo, rhino, buffalo and crocodile.

When responding to a question in Parliament in the past, Minister of Environment and Tourism, Philda Kereng said between 2020 and 2021 the government spent P24.2 million on elephant compensation alone. She added that the value of damage incurred in monetary terms was P15.1 million and P 9.1 million in 2020 and 2021 respectively. “During the year 2020, my ministry received 3,504 reports of elephant damage to ploughing fields across the country. In the year 2021, these reports totalled 4,047,” she said. Kereng also revealed that six species other than elephants cost government P14.1 million in compensation during those years. She said in relation to species other than elephants the value of damage incurred in monetary terms amounted to P8.1 million and P6 million in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

Still on the visit, Mphothwe said the Presidents might talk about beef trade since some Batswana have started selling it to Angola while others want to sell cattle to the latter. He said, that would help on the issue of the beef market and it will strengthen the relationship between the two countries. Still, on the matter, Mphothwe said another issue that might crop up is the need to diversify fuel transportation methods between the two countries. On the issue of diamonds, he said so far the two countries are doing well and the Presidents might discuss it. Mphothwe said he hopes that there is going to be action between the two countries after these bilateral talks. He said even though Angola has an embassy in the country, Botswana has not yet opened an office in that country and he hopes they will have one soon. While on the Memorandum of Agreements (MoA), Mphothwe said he is not sure that they will sign, however, he stated that there are four MoAs that are being discussed. He said it was only that the visit happened so quickly when some Ministries had not yet finished some agreements.

Editor's Comment
Routine child vaccination imperative

The recent Vaccination Day in Motokwe, orchestrated through collaborative efforts between UNICEF, USAID, BRCS, and the Ministry of Health, underscores a commendable stride towards fortifying child health services.The painful reality as reflected by the Ministry of Health's data regarding the decline in routine immunisation coverage since the onset of the pandemic, is a cause for concern.It underscores the urgent need to address the...

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