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Botswana president lobbies Ramaphosa to support country’s SADC candidate

Masisi has been on a charm offensive

19 March 2021 - 17:01 By aphiwe deklerk
President Cyril Ramaphosa said SA will work with Botswana on issues such as the opening and closing of borders during the Covid-19 pandemic. File photo.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said SA will work with Botswana on issues such as the opening and closing of borders during the Covid-19 pandemic. File photo.
Image: GCIS

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi met with President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday in a bid to lobby him to support his country’s candidate for Southern African Development Community (SADC) secretary-general.

Masisi has been on a charm offensive, trying to lobby powerful nations in the SADC region to support the country’s candidate.

His last visit was to Congo where, according to Africa Intelligence, he didn’t get the support he was hoping for.

Masisi is currently the chairperson of the SADC but will hand over the position to Ramaphosa in August.

Both Ramaphosa and Masisi confirmed in a press conference on Friday that they discussed Botswana to win the secretary-general position, but the SA president did not say whether Masisi would have his support.

“We also received a report from President Masisi as he is the chair of our organ, the SADC, in terms of the work he continues to do. We are going to be the incoming chair and we gained a lot of wisdom and insight into the work he is doing,” said Ramaphosa.

“We also discussed the positions that are going to become available in the SADC and about Botswana’s desire in that regard on how those positions can be filled.”

Masisi said they will speak to Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“His excellency the president, it being early because the position only becomes available in August, will obviously have to consult and engage his cabinet and those around him.

“I will think about the other positions for which we are not running,” said Masisi.

Ramaphosa said SA will hold a binational summit between the two countries. He did not give a date but Masisi said the two have instructed their international relations ministers to hasten the meeting.

“We had time to speak about economic integration in our SADC region and also the deep and very good relations between Botswana and SA that stem from many, many years - but also how best we can deepen, broaden and enhance those relations, particularly on economic matters.

“We decided we are going to solidify those relations through ensuring our binational dealings are speeded up even during the period of Covid-19,” said Ramaphosa.

He said there were a number of areas of cooperation which the two countries needed to enhance and solidify, including economic dealings and “at the social level, political level and environmental level, including climate change issues”.

“We also discussed the Covid-19 challenge in our region and in our two countries and agreed it should give us an opportunity to enhance and deepen our integration and also develop good strategies to work together on issues such as the opening and closing of borders.”