Opening Remarks by Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Republic of South Africa, on the occasion of the 2nd Bi-National Commission between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Botswana, Gaborone, 19 November 2014

Your Excellency, Hon Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Botswana,

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

Senior Officials from our respective Governments,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dumelang Bomma le Borra, le kae

Allow me first to congratulate Botswana, our host, on the recently concluded peaceful, free and fair, transparent and credible elections. Let me also take this opportunity to congratulate you, Co-Chair and all other Ministers on your deserved appointments as Ministers of the Republic of Botswana.

On behalf of all my South African Ministers here present, we not only wish you well on your new assignments but we also commit ourselves to working closely with you as we advance our strategic bilateral relations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As you all know, our relations are informed by geographical proximity and linguistic and cultural affinities. We are the same people. We speak the same culture and share the same ancestry.

We share the same history in that we were once colonised. It is through struggles against colonialism and apartheid that we were cemented in our relations. Botswana facilitated the transit of South African liberation cadres, housed and supported them. And the country suffered as a result.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is against this background that our cooperation finds its true expression. It was therefore natural that our two countries decided to elevate bilateral cooperation to a higher level through the establishment of the Bi-national Commission (BNC). The purpose of establishing the BNC is to streamline and coordinate our cooperation.

Equally gratifying is the fact that we are now mandated by the BNC to meet annually, to do our checks and balances, for effective implementation of our bilateral agreements and MoUs between our respective governments.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is essential that we pay particular attention to growing economic ties and investments between our countries as these will form a firm foundation for mutual benefits.

Our two countries continue to cooperate in various fields, among others, Energy, Water, Justice, Immigration, Culture, Transport, Science and Technology, Defence and Security, Agriculture, Tourism, Minerals, Education, Sports and Recreation, Health, Trade and Industry, and issues related to Regional Integration. This is indicative of the level of confluence of closeness that exists between our countries.

The existence of thirty-four (34) signed Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding between our two countries aptly demonstrate the depth and extent of bilateral cooperation. We now need to prioritise the full implementation of all these legal instruments.

In addition, the large presence of South African companies in Botswana which are involved in various sectors such as housing, food and beverages, construction, retail, hotels and leisure, banking, medical services, etc. is noted. We trust that they are contributing, in no small measure, to the economic development and diversification in Botswana.

Tourism development is a critical area of focus. We need to join hands to improve tourism between our countries and this will create employment opportunities so dearly needed in our respective countries. 

Co-Chair, ladies and gentlemen,

Our task today is to review progress made in the implementation of the bilateral Agreements/MoUs. It is only by working together that we can succeed and move our cooperation forward. We have made good progress, but more remains to be done.

Let me once more take this opportunity to thank you, Co-Chair, for your kind words of welcome.

We keenly look forward to receiving reports from our senior officials who have been meeting for the past two days.

I thank you

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road
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