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Botswanan President Festus Mogae
Botswanan President Festus Mogae
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW WITH BOTSWANAN PRESIDENT FESTUS MOGAE ON APRIL 1ST, 2001

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST:

And now 25 years ago Botswana was one of the 20 poorest countries in the world, today it's considered the richest non-oil producing country in Africa, what's behind this radical transformation? Well here to tell us is Botswana's President, Festus Mogae. Mr President, very good to have you with us.

FESTUS MOGAE:

Thank you.

DAVID FROST:

The real reason for transformation, you're, you're launching something called Diamonds for Development, but the real reason for the transformation apart from inspired leadership no doubt, but apart from that is diamonds, yes?

FESTUS MOGAE:

Yes.

DAVID FROST:

And why are you launching Diamonds for Development?

FESTUS MOGAE:

Because we were concerned that the legitimate concern about diamonds from conflict areas such as Sierra Leone, is leading people to talk of boycotting the diamonds because they are associated with the mutilation of children's limbs in Sierra Leone so we are here to say, no in our part of the world in Botswana in particular, in southern Africa in general, that includes Namibia, South Africa and Botswana, but in Botswana in particular diamonds are associated with, with development, with the safety of children and not the mutilation of their limbs.

DAVID FROST:

Yes and not as has been happening at the centre of conflict in Sierra Leone and places like that, so, and it's absolutely vital for your¿

FESTUS MOGAE:

And it's vital that we are, we are innocent of any conflict but at the same time we are more dependent on diamonds than most, than anybody else actually, we happen to be the largest producer of diamonds and although we have made our best efforts to diversify our economy away from dependence on diamonds we still are largely dependent on diamonds and therefore any boycott, any interruption to the supply and orderly marketing of legitimate diamonds would be very harmful to us and that's why we are concerned. We say that in our case diamonds plus democracy means development.

DAVID FROST:

Means development. The other statistic which is of course is a very worrying one is the fact that according to figures the, almost 36 per cent of the population of Botswana has HIV?

FESTUS MOGAE:

Well we don't know¿

DAVID FROST:

Thirty six per cent?

FESTUS MOGAE:

We don't¿not quite I think that was a sample¿it's a sample, a particular sample of a particular group of expectant women in a particular area. No generally the estimate is about 17 per cent of the total, if you are talking about a total population. But that's not important because three per cent, five per cent will be too many, so whether it's 20 or 30 it's too many, we are in trouble, yes that's what we are saying. We have a number of programmes and we are saying that we are fighting this pandemic and we need our diamond revenues to fight, to continue with the programmes that we now have.

DAVID FROST:

So you've got, you've got obviously two, two problems as in most, many medical things, prevention and cure.

FESTUS MOGAE:

Yes.

DAVID FROST:

And obviously research is going on in terms of cure, but what can you do to prevent people contracting the HIV virus?

FESTUS MOGAE:

For the time being we have been mounting a campaign advising people about, telling people about the HIV virus, how it is transmitted and that is largely through sexual contact, but of course there are other means to needles and so on and also now we now have people who have contracted it nursing their relatives but we're now assisting them, we have programmes of about counselling people or home based care so we're continuing with the prevention message in schools, in all places, in institutions, in the Army and the Police, everywhere and also all of us, all politicians in Botswana have to take about Aids whenever we address a meeting irrespective of what you are talking about you have to touch on that one.

DAVID FROST:

And what, what is your feeling about, in terms of the Commonwealth, what about Zimbabwe today, Mr Mugabe, how do you feel about his land reclamations and his other policies, are you one of those people who's a critic of Mr Mugabe or not?

FESTUS MOGAE:

¿Sir David, Zimbabwe and South Africa are bigger countries and they're my neighbours and I'd rather you ask me about Botswana rather than those. We prefer to do our own little things, our own little way.

DAVID FROST:

Well you've talked about Botswana as well and we're delighted with the way that the economy has been shaping up and at the same time you do have this massive problem of Aids which we wish you all the best with.

FESTUS MOGAE:

Thank you very much.

END

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