Welcome Remarks by President Jacob Zuma for the Bilateral Discussions on the occasion of the State Visit to South Africa by the President of Botswana, His Excellency, Lt General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, Pretoria, 5 October 2010
Your Excellency, President Khama,
Excellency High Commissioners,
I am delighted and privileged to welcome you, Mr President and your delegation to South Africa on this historic State Visit.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Your Excellency, the Government and people of Botswana on the celebration of the 44th Anniversary of the Independence of the Republic Botswana.
Your visit today will be remembered as an important landmark in the historic bilateral relations between our two sister countries. Your presence in our country is once more a manifestation of the shared destiny which political and cultural history has bestowed on us.
It is also a reminder that not too long ago, Botswana was a home to many of our cadres who fled the brutality of the apartheid regime.
We will never forget the solidarity, support and friendship we received from the Botswana people during that critical period. For that reason, we will always be one people, with one destiny.
Over the years our two countries have worked hard to deal with various challenges of economic growth and development.
In this regard, great achievements have been registered in the fields of good governance, food security, water, education and health.
Your Excellency, we are pleased with the growth in friendship, solidarity, good neighbourliness and mutually beneficial cooperation between our two countries.
This has established a firm base for us to continue to work together to address the common challenges of eradicating poverty, job creation, the fight against HIV and AIDS and human resource development.
The importance of this visit is indeed highlighted by the composition of your delegation which includes senior Cabinet Ministers and prominent captains of industries who are here to ensure that our economic cooperation is improved.
We hope that we will have a constructive engagement this morning with special emphasis on areas of mutual interest.
It is critical that we reflect on the progress made in our bilateral interaction and find common ground in resolving and finalising all outstanding issues.
We have normalised diplomatic relations after attaining our freedom in 1994 and since then the following achievements have been registered as evidenced by:
- The establishment of the Joint Permanent Commission for Cooperation in 2003;
- The creation of the Joint Permanent Commission for Cooperation on Defence and Security in 2000;
- The signing of a total of 19 bilateral agreements; and joint projects such as the establishment of three Transfrontier Parks;
Having noted progress made to date, we need to work to ensure successful implementation of the decisions taken in the past as well as to ensure the regular review of all bilateral agreements.
May you allow me to emphasise the importance of our regular interaction in order to review the implementation of decisions to be taken during our deliberations today for the benefit of our people.
Special emphasis should be placed on enhancing trade between our countries; assisting each other in expanding business opportunities which will lead to diversification; tourism; and investment promotion.
Mr President, the task that faces us as neighbours is to ensure that our region prospers and that our regional institutions such as SADC and SACU are instrumental in that goal.
I trust that we will be able to, together, ensure that these bodies are efficient, effective, and deliver on the vision for development that was embodied in their establishment.
Once again Mr President, a very warm welcome to your second home and many thanks for giving us the opportunity to host you for a few days.
May you, Mr President, and your delegation enjoy your stay in our country.
I thank you.