Opening Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa during the Plenary Session of the South Africa – Botswana Bi-National Commission, 22 April 2022, Pretoria
Your Excellency, My Dear Brother, President Mokgweetsi Masisi,
Our respective High Commissioners,
Senior Government Officials,
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome you and your delegation to South Africa.
It is indeed a pleasure to co-chair this Summit Meeting of the Fifth Session of South Africa – Botswana Bi-National Commission alongside you.
We are meeting at a time when our respective countries are on the path of recovery and rebuilding in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It has been an extremely difficult two years as we count the cost in human lives and livelihoods.
Allow me to thank you, Your Excellency, for Botswana’s support for South Africa during our tenure as Chair of the African Union in 2020, and for your support for our current role as AU Champion for the COVID-19 Response.
It is up to us as African countries to put our continent on a new trajectory of progress, prosperity and self-reliance.
Our particular focus must now be on strengthening health systems across the region and the continent, and on improving our capabilities in areas such as vaccine and medical supplies manufacturing.
On the economic front, we have a chance to build back better.
African countries have an opportunity to leverage advances in the green and circular economies, low-carbon energy and others, in pursuit of our growth objectives.
As our respective countries proceed along the path of recovery, it is greatly encouraging that our bonds of solidarity and cooperation remain strong.
This BNC is an opportunity to further deepen our cooperation in many areas including infrastructure development, energy production, mining, defence, health, transport, migration, and information and communication technologies.
It is critical therefore that we consolidate the work that has already been done within the existing areas of cooperation and explore further areas of collaboration and cooperation.
The ties between the peoples of South Africa and Botswana are long-standing, and our solidarity was forged in the trenches of struggle.
Botswana played a pivotal role in ending colonialism and apartheid in South Africa.
The terrain of struggle has changed over the years.
Our foremost consideration today is overcoming poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.
I am therefore encouraged by the platform created by the Bi-National Commission to reflect on how best we can pursue shared prosperity as well as regional and continental integration.
As members of SADC and the African Union, our two countries share common views on issues of peace, stability, economic development, regional and continental integration, as well as global governance.
I wish to thank you for your support as a fellow Troika member of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.
The efforts of the government of Botswana in support of regional peace and security programmes, in particular the contribution of personnel and attendant capabilities to the SADC Mission in Mozambique, is to be commended.
We share a common aspiration to give practical effect to the AU’s Agenda 2063, and to see a continent that is prosperous, peaceful, integrated and united.
Botswana is to be commended for the steps it has taken towards the realisation of Africa’s economic integration agenda.
The opening of the Kazungula Bridge in May 2021 facilitates the movement of goods across a number of countries in our region.
It thereby contributes to enhanced economic integration within the broader rubric of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
We thank you for your message of support and condolences to our people with regards to the recent floods in the country, especially in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
I wish to thank our respective Ministers and Senior Officials for their hard work and preparation for this Summit Meeting.
I look forward to fruitful deliberations.
I thank you.
ISSUED BY THE PRESIDENCY OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA