Media Statement by President JG Zuma on the occasion of the State Visit of His Excellence Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama of the Republic of Botswana to the Republic of South Africa, Union Buildings, Pretoria, 5 October 2010

Ladies and gentlemen of the media

The President of the Republic of Botswana, His Excellency Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, is on a State Visit to the Republic of South Africa from 5 – 6 October 2010.

I am delighted that he accepted my invitation to visit our country to further deepen our bilateral relations.

His Excellency, President Khama and I held official talks this morning.  We acknowledged the closeness of the peoples of the two countries in terms of cultural, linguistic and family ties, as well as geographical proximity.

We reiterated the need for our two countries to mutually support each other in our endeavours to build a better future for all of our people.

We also want to continue working together to create opportunities which will ensure economic and industrial development leading to job creation and alleviation of poverty.

Our two countries currently have structured cooperation in the form of a Joint Permanent Commission for Co-operation as well as a Joint Permanent Commission for Co-operation on Defence and Security. 

Building on the good work done by the two structures, today we decided to elevate our relations into a Bi-National Commission, which will be presided over by the two Heads of State.

The BNC will meet annually alternating between Pretoria and Gaborone.

Under the auspices of the current bilateral mechanism, a wide range of Agreements are in operation, including Agriculture; Water; Transport; Environmental Affairs; Tourism; Trade; Aviation; Search and Rescue; Science and Technology; Health; Justice;  Sport; and Arts and Culture.

Our bilateral talks covered these areas and were aimed at policy development and charting a course for the future, while taking into consideration the unique needs of each country.

The energy and water needs of South Africa and Botswana were discussed, as well as how the two countries can support each other in their requirements and the development of potential that exists.

We also made special mention of the excellent co-operation between the two countries on the establishment of Transfrontier Parks.

These include the Kgalagadi Park between South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, and the Limpopo/Shashe TFCA between Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, as well as the Mapungubwe Park between South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

The Transfrontier Parks cooperation represents an investment in the natural heritage for generations to come, and will contribute to attracting tourists to Southern Africa.

On regional and international issues, we re-affirmed our commitment to the goals and aspirations of the Southern African Customs Union and the Southern African Development Community, to bring about development, enhance trade and improve infrastructure in Southern Africa. 

South Africa expressed its appreciation of the role played by Botswana in leading the SADC negotiation group on the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union, and pledged its support in enhancing further discussions and negotiations.

His Excellency President Khama will later today join me at Freedom Park to lay a wreath commemorating those who have dedicated and given their lives for the freedom of South Africa.

This will enable us to demonstrate our gratitude to Botswana for the solidarity and unwavering support provided to us during the liberation struggle.

This solidarity was accorded to our people at great cost to Botswana and her people, as the Apartheid regime retaliated with bombings and attacks on the citizens of Botswana.
This history binds our two countries and peoples in a friendship and kinship that goes beyond normal diplomatic relations.

It is for this reason that this State visit is so important to us.

Let me once again welcome you to South Africa, Your Excellency and your distinguished delegation.

I thank you.

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