Opening Remarks by Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Republic of South Africa, on the occasion of the Inaugural Session of the Bi-national Commission between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Namibia, Windhoek, 6 November 2013

Your Excellency, Hon Minister Nandi-Ndaitwah, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Namibia,

Honourable Ministers of the Republic of Namibia and the Republic of South Africa,

Senior Officials from our respective Governments,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to thank you for the very warm welcome we have received upon our arrival and, on this historic day of the first meeting of the SA-Namibia Bi-National Commission where we are taking the relationship between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Namibia to a higher level.

Today marks the very first meeting where we meet at this forum, not under the Heads of State Economic Bilateral Forum, but as a Bi-National Commission between our two countries.  I particularly extend a special thank you to you, Hon Minister Nandi-Ndaitwah and your delegation for having made available to us excellent facilities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The current forum seeks to further enhance the current existing cordial relations between our respective countries to a new level of strategic cooperation. As opposed to meeting bi-annually, the forum will now meet yearly to address the pressing issues that affect the peoples of our two countries to enable efficient coordination and implementation of bilateral agreements and commitments between our respective governments, and to identify areas of convergence in our engagements at both regional and international levels.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Regarding our bilateral relations, allow me to reflect on the state of our interaction.

As you may be aware, officially South Africa and Namibia have had good political relations since 1994 when the bilateral diplomatic relations between the two countries were normalised.

The good relationship that exists between the peoples of our two countries however, trace their existence to the days of liberation struggle against apartheid. Our leadership then shared ideas and cooperated in exile.  Today we share leadership ideas and cooperation for the betterment of citizens of our countries, free from oppression. Today we put emphasis on cooperation and hard work that is dedicated to poverty eradication, job creation, development and growth for a better South Africa and a better Namibia.

My dear Sister and colleague,

Our two countries have signed a larger number of Agreements together than with any other SADC country, as evidenced by the fifty two (52) signed agreements and Memoranda of Understanding.  In this regard, South Africa and Namibia should work harder and more in the implementation of these agreements. Let us utilise these instruments for the betterment of the South African and Namibian People.

South Africa and Namibia cooperate in various fields, including environment, in particular Trans-Frontier Parks, Marine and Coastal Management, Transport, Energy, Science and Technology, Trade and Industry, spatial Development Initiatives, Defence and Security, Agriculture and issues relating to Regional Integration.

Furthermore, a number of South African companies are involved in Namibia in a variety of sectors including mining, retail, food and beverages, hotels and leisure, banking and health.

I am happy that we have met in April 2013, where we were also able to discuss matters of mutual interest and I look forward to hearing what progress our senior officials have made.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We meet here today to take stock of the progress we have made in the past and especially in the implementation of bilateral projects and also to see how we can conclude today’s discussions in a manner that will bring to the attention of our Presidents our commitment to ensuring that our BNC will benefit our people.

My Sister, Minister Nandi-Ndaitwah,

Let me take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for availing yourself together with your capable team for this meeting.

I wish the team here today successful deliberations and I equally look forward to the reports leading up to the ultimate adoption of agreed minutes of this first session of the BNC.

I thank you.

For enquiries please contact Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, at 082 884 5974.

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