Opening Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa during the Third Session of the South Africa–Namibia Bi-National Commission, Windhoek, Namibia, 13 October 2023
Your Excellency, President Dr Hage Geingob,
Members of the media from Namibia and South Africa,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Your Excellency President Geingob, thank you for receiving us in Windhoek.
We are pleased that we have been able to honour your invitation to come to Namibia following your own visit to South Africa in April this year.
The convening of the Third South Africa Namibia Bi-National Commission has afforded us the perfect opportunity to exchange views on issues impacting our countries.
We meet to discuss issues of mutual interest at a time when events far beyond our borders have left us shaken and deeply troubled.
The escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lays bare the devastation and suffering that results when the international, rules-based order is disregarded.
We are deeply concerned about the targeting of civilians, the destruction of homes, the displacement of thousands of people, the deprivation of basic services and denial of access to humanitarian aid.
South Africa has called for the urgent cessation of hostilities to avoid further carnage and for favourable conditions for dialogue to be created.
We have reaffirmed our support for a viable Palestinian state, existing side-by-side with Israel, and within the 1967 internationally accepted borders.
We are all too aware that failure to fully implement various United Nations resolutions and decisions have played a major part in the resurgence of hostilities.
As countries that ascribe to the tenets of progressive internationalism, we remain firm on our commitment to a world free from violence, conflict, misery and want.
We must do what we can to support reconciliation and peace.
The Bi-National Commission between South Africa and Namibia is an important structured mechanism for the pursuit of our shared future.
I commend our respective Ministers and senior officials for their hard work in preparing for this Bi-National Commission.
I am told that there has been progress in implementing certain decisions since your State Visit to South Africa earlier this year, one of which is the audit of our legal instruments.
It is important that we track the implementation of the various legal instruments between our countries, and address impediments as and when they arise.
We look forward to the Business Forum that is taking place on the margins of this Bi-National Commission.
Deepening investment and trade between South Africa and Namibia is a priority.
We need to expedite the establishment of the proposed South Africa-Namibia Business Council because there are substantial trade and investment opportunities in both countries.
We welcome your invitation to cooperate with Namibia in the energy sector, including in oil, gas and green hydrogen.
We are confident that Namibia’s recent hydrocarbon discoveries will contribute to job creation, industrialisation and energy security.
We must take advantage of several energy projects in our respective countries that hold promise for cross-border collaboration.
The same holds true for cooperation around water security.
South Africa, Namibia and much of the continent is being negatively affected by extreme weather caused by climate change.
The Orange River is an integral part of trilateral collaboration with the government of Lesotho to successfully implement Phase Two of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.
On intra-African trade and continental economic integration, the African Continental Free Trade Area will contribute to greater self-reliance and the sustainability of our economic development endeavours.
The extraction of raw materials for export from our continent without beneficiation has had a detrimental effect on the development of our people.
We need to step up efforts to build manufacturing capacity and beneficial regional and continental value chains.
South Africa and Namibia continue to collaborate at bilateral and multilateral levels to ensure there is sustainable peace in the region and beyond.
Alongside regional partners, we are playing our part in combating terrorism and extremism in Northern Mozambique. It is critical that this situation is resolved with urgency so that those who have been displaced will be able to return to their homes and their livelihoods and the process of reconstruction can commence.
As African countries we are also playing our part in supporting peacebuilding efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where conflict in the country’s east continues to cause untold hardship and destruction.
The achievement of the Africa We Want as articulated in the African Union’s Agenda 2063 requires that we reaffirm our commitment to multilateralism and the strengthening of institutions of global governance.
As South Africa and Namibia we reaffirm our calls for the reform of the United Nations, particularly the Security Council, and for reform of the entire global financial architecture.
As progressive internationalists we are united behind the cause of the people of Western Sahara and their quest for self-determination.
We reiterate the importance of the declaration and commitments of the SADC Solidarity Conference with Western Sahara that we co-hosted in March 2019. We must ensure that these are fully implemented.
It is disheartening that most UN resolutions on the referendum for Western Sahara are not being implemented. Now, more than ever, we need institutions of global governance that are responsive, progressive and representative.
With these few words, I thank you once again Your Excellency for your warm welcome and hospitality and look forward to our engagement today.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency