Opening Remarks by H. E. Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Republic of South Africa, on the occasion of the 2nd Session of the Bi-National Commission between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Namibia, Pretoria, 06 October 2016
My sister, Hon Nandi-Ndaitwah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of Namibia;
Honourable Ministers from our two Republics;
Co-Chairs of the Senior Officials;
High Commissioners of our two countries;
Senior Officials from our respective Governments;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
It is with great pleasure that I welcome to South Africa all our Namibian colleagues. South Africa is your home as Namibia is our home. We are family, we are comrades and most importantly we are neighbours. As family and comrades, we need to meet regularly to discuss issues of mutual interest.
Our historical and fraternal bonds demand that we should meet frequently. Indeed, we do meet frequently, that we can state confidently.
Our bonds were forged during the liberation struggle and our common battle against oppression. South Africa holds Namibia in high esteem as a beacon of stability, peace and progress in our region. Beyond our shared historical ties and shared location at the southern tip of Africa, Namibia and South Africa share similar goals, agendas and challenges related to climate change and the down turn in the global economy which invariably has an impact on all. I therefore wish to assure you, Honourable Deputy Prime Minister, of our desire to work with you to forge a closer strategic partnership in pursuit of stronger bilateral cooperation and to advance the developmental agenda in the region and the Continent.
Hon Ministers and senior officials,
We meet here this morning on the occasion of the Ministerial Meeting in preparation for the 2nd Session of the Bi-National Commission which is scheduled for tomorrow. While our BNC should meet annually, we acknowledge that we could not meet in 2014 and 2015 largely due to electoral schedules in our respective countries.
As we meet here this morning, we also acknowledge the wide cooperation between our two countries in various fields. We cooperate literally in everything, including, energy, education, trade and investment, security, water, agriculture, immigration, transport, environmental management, science and technology, communications, correctional services, health, culture and sport, to mention but a few.
Because of this wide and deep cooperation, we have to date seventy-one (71) signed agreements and memoranda of understanding between our sister Republics. We therefore need to prioritise the full implementation of these agreements and memoranda of understanding. On this, we should not fail because while these agreements are important, we must remember that our people cannot eat agreements and policies.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is critically important to pay a particular focus on economic projects within the broader context of the SADC industrialisation. Costing of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan and Industrialisation has been done. What is required as decided in Mbabane is to prioritise identified projects.
Tourism, particularly eco-tourism development between our countries should be a critical area of focus. We need to join hands in order to improve our offering to the market and draw increasing numbers of tourists that will result in increasing job creation and poverty alleviation whilst highlighting the very best our countries have to offer.
South Africa and Namibia must unlock the economic potential of our heritage and cultural resources through responsible and sustainable tourism development.
It is further important that we embrace the digital age and to develop our ICT platforms that offers the opportunity to catapult our economies into top gear.
Hon Deputy Prime Minister,
Before I conclude, I want to express our concern on the continued instability in some of our countries in the region and Continent. We need to continue working together in the maintenance of peace, security and stability.
Our officials have been meeting over past two days preparing reports and identifying new areas of cooperation that will benefit our countries and peoples. We therefore look forward to receiving their report.
Your Excellency and esteemed delegation, welcome once more.
I thank you
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road