On 12 February, President Mokgweetsi Masisi announced at a political rally that he was “shaking a giant” and wanted a larger share of the diamonds produced in the country. The two had been locked horns since 2018 over future terms of their joint venture, Debswana Diamond Company (Debswana). The government has increased its share from the original 15% to become an equal partner with De Beers, and Debswana has long been considered a model for African mining economies looking to translate mineral wealth into socioeconomic gains.
Under the current agreement, the government sells 25% of diamonds mined by Debswana, through state-owned trader Okavango Diamond Company (ODC). The remaining 75% is sold by De Beers. Negotiations that began in 2018 were scheduled to conclude by 2021, but the deadline was extended to 30 June this year due to delays wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.