Toast Remarks of the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, at the State Banquet in honour of the President of the Republic of Botswana, His Excellency, Festus Mogae, Cape Town, 25 October 2005

Your Excellency, President Festus Mogae,
First Lady, Barbara Mogae,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen

My wife and I are truly delighted and honoured to welcome you, Your Excellency, First Lady Barbara Mogae and your delegation on the occasion of your first state visit to South Africa. On behalf of the government and people of South Africa, we convey our warmest greetings to you and through you to the people of Botswana.

We still remember vividly our visit to your beautiful country in 2003 when we were honoured with an opportunity to address your esteemed Parliament. We will always be grateful for that. That gesture sent out a clear message of the depth of the relationship our two countries enjoy.

Your presence in our country, Mr President, is once more a manifestation of the shared destiny that natural, political and cultural history has bestowed on both our countries.

Mr President, we are very pleased with the growth of the relations of friendship, solidarity, good neighbourliness and mutually beneficial co-operation between our countries and peoples. This has established a very firm base for us to continue to work together to address the common challenge to provide a better life for both our peoples.

In this context I would like to take advantage of this important occasion once more to thank you, the government and the people of Botswana for the sacrifices they made to help us achieve our liberation. We will never forget the blood that was shed by your compatriots, Mr President, because they too were committed to see an end to the apartheid crime against humanity.

When in 2000 our two countries gave birth to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, it was to symbolise in concrete terms the meaning of true collaboration in this century of hope for the African continent. It is surely what Botswana's revered poet, Leetile Disang Raditladi had in mind when he wrote in his eloquent poem, Aferika:

Aferika, fatshe la letsatsi
Le phatsimang ngwaga fela, Aferika lefatshe la metse
A masetlhana nokeng tsotlhe. Lefatshe leno ke la temo, Lefatshe leno ke la kgomo, Lefatshe leno ke la khumo; Tse di bonwa mono Aferika

[Approximate English translation:

Africa, the land where the sun shines throughout the year,
Africa, the land of sandy coloured water in all rivers.
This land is the land of agriculture,
This land is the land of cattle,
This land is the land of wealth,
All these are found here in Africa].

(Extracted from: Raditladi, LD, Sefalana sa menate, p. 19.)

Sefalana sa menate celebrates the immense natural and human resource heritage bequeathed to us by nature and our ancestors, with an injunction to hold it in responsible stewardship on behalf of future generations. To give Africa a better tomorrow means that today we must, together, do everything in our power to rid our beautiful mother continent of the scourge of poverty and underdevelopment.

Your Excellency, it was precisely because we understood that historical imperative, that during our visit to your country in 2003, we agreed to establish the Botswana/South Africa Joint Permanent Commission for Co-operation to provide an institutional mechanism to consolidate and expand our bilateral relations.

Since the coming into effect of the Commission, we have entered into various other Bilateral Agreements including the six we signed today. I am informed that additional Agreements are in the process of negotiation.

Not only do we note with satisfaction the growth in our economic and trade relations, we look forward to their further expansion for mutual benefit.

In addition, Mr President, we in South Africa are proud to have as a partner in the advancement of democracy and continental unity the great people of Botswana who under your leadership continue to be true standard bearers of African pride.

Collectively therefore, we remain challenged at all times to remain true to the critical mission of doing everything possible to help our region and continent to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment.

With respect to our roles in the various continental institutions, we wish to express our appreciation for the continued commitment Botswana has shown toward the important task of strengthening the African Union and its development programme, New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

Let us continue to work for the strengthening our co-operative relationships both at Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and South African Development Countries (SADC). With regard to SADC, we would like to reaffirm our unwavering support for you, Mr President, as you lead us as we strive to speed up the process of regional integration.

Once again, Mr President, a very warm welcome to this your second home and many thanks for giving us the privilege to host you for a few days.

Ladies and gentlemen:

Please rise and join me in a toast to the good health and prosperity of President Festus Mogae and First Lady Barbara Mogae and to the eternal bond of friendship between the peoples of Botswana and South Africa. To Friendship!

Pula!

Issued by: The Presidency
25 October 2005

 

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