Opening Remarks by His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the 3rd Bi-National Commission between South Africa and Botswana, Pretoria, 11 November 2016
Your Excellency, President Seretse Khama Ian Khama;
Senior Officials and High Commissioners,
Members of the Media;
It is a great pleasure and privilege to once again welcome you to South Africa, My Brother, President Khama, and your distinguished delegation.
Allow me to take this opportunity to once more extend our very warm and heartfelt congratulations to the Government and the people of Botswana on their 50th Independence Anniversary.
This was duly and colourfully celebrated in Botswana on 30 September 2016.
We are all impressed with your country’s achievements, Mr President.
Your country has recorded remarkable achievements since independence, becoming a model of democracy, stability and rule of law.
Significantly, successive governments in Botswana have been able to manage the profits of their natural resources to the betterment and development of the country. This is something that many in the continent may consider emulating.
We are greatly honoured to host you Mr President on the occasion of the 3rd Session of the Bi-National Commission between our two countries.
Our BNC is an important platform that helps to consolidate bilateral cooperation existing between our sister countries.
Most importantly, it is a platform we use to provide strategic direction to our relations.
Furthermore, the BNC helps us to think together and thus shape our national development plans accordingly.
It is a fact that because of our geographical proximity, our historical and cultural ties, cooperation between our two countries spans across a broad spectrum of areas.
These include trade, health, Energy; Water; Justice; Immigration; Culture; Transport; Science and Technology; defence and security; Agriculture; Tourism; Minerals; Education as well as Sports and Recreation.
Growing our economic ties and investments is fundamental for both our countries, as these will help to eradicate poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.
We note with appreciation the growing cross border investment by our private sector.
We need to prioritise economic diversification and manufacturing in order to grow our economies and create job opportunities.
At this point I would like to highlight the excellent cooperation in one important field, and that is in Science and Technology, particularly the Square Kilometre Array Project.
This Project has placed our scientists and students at the forefront of research in astronomy, engineering and information and communication technologies.
In this regard, we note with great appreciation and satisfaction the increasing number of Batswana students enrolled at our Universities.
We meet during a difficult period when our region faces a serious and persistent drought and water shortages. The drought will result in significantly reduced crop production throughout Southern Africa. This will have a far-reaching impact on food security and food prices.
It is therefore vital that we fast track our work on the Lesotho Highlands Water Transfer Project in an effort to address the water shortage crisis.
As SADC, we need to explore the possibility of hosting a special Summit to discuss the drought and solutions thereof.
We also need to work diligently on the implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan to create regional value chains and manufacturing capacities.
Key in this regard is a need to identify and prioritise projects that will have a regional and cross border dimension.
Critically important is also the need to enhance our cooperation in border management to combat cross-border crimes such as rhino and elephant poaching.
Some of our countries in the region and continent continue to face political and security challenges.
We need to continue working together in the maintenance of peace, security and stability.
Let me conclude by once more welcoming our esteemed Guests from our sister Republic and Neighbour – Botswana.
I look forward to our deliberations on the report of the Ministers.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency