Opening Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the launch of the Inaugural Lesotho–South Africa Bi-National Commission, 28 September 2023
Your Excellency, Prime Minister Matekane,
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 Inaugural Session of the South Africa–Lesotho Bi-National Commission.
South Africa attaches great importance to its bilateral relations and cooperation with the Kingdom of Lesotho.
Our relationship is anchored in historic bonds of language, culture and heritage.
We recall with gratitude that the Kingdom of Lesotho provided shelter and support to South Africa’s liberation movements during the struggle against apartheid.
Economic relations between our two countries have grown over the years and continue to mutually benefit our respective peoples.
South African businesses in Lesotho contribute to job creation while Lesotho’s water resources continue to benefit South Africa.
It is important for the governments of both countries to work together to resolve challenges faced by businesses and put in place mechanisms to ensure that investments are protected.
The elevation of the Joint Bilateral Commission of Cooperation between South Africa and Lesotho to a Bi-National Commission is a testament to the unwavering commitment by our two countries to further bolster our relations for mutual benefit.
South Africa highly appreciates the cooperation on water resources between the two countries. In particular, we welcome Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project as a vital development to enhance water security in the Gauteng province and other parts of South Africa.
The Lesotho Highlands Water Project also contributes to job creation in Lesotho and the construction of new roads, bringing access to previously inaccessible areas of Lesotho. South Africa is ready to cooperate with Lesotho to resolve any challenges that may arise in the implementation of the project.
South Africa is keen to work with the Kingdom of Lesotho on the four proposed renewable energy projects.
In the face of the worsening effects of climate change, we need to be making significant investments to ensure water and energy security for our peoples into the future.
Our respective ministers should continue their engagements so that we can see progress on these proposed developments.
We welcome the commitment of the government of Lesotho to cooperate with South Africa to deal with challenges of illegal mining in our country. Such activity carries a great social and economic cost for both our countries.
We were deeply saddened by the unfortunate loss of the lives of illegal miners in Harmony Gold Mine in Welkom. Our respective governments are working with the mining company on the best methods and plan to retrieve the bodies of the miners without endangering the rescue personnel.
We welcome the commitment made by the Right Honourable the Prime Minister to prioritise the implementation and completion of the comprehensive National Reformr Process.
We commend the government and people of the Kingdom of Lesotho for finalising the Action Plan to monitor the completion of the reforms process.
Please be assured that South Africa will continue to support the SADC Panel of Elders and Mediation Reference Group initiative in assisting Basotho to complete the National Reform Process.
Thank you once again, Prime Minister, for paying a working visit to South Africa to co-chair this historic Inaugural Session of the Bi-National Commission.
I wish to thank our respective Ministers and Senior Officials for their hard work and preparation for this meeting.
I look forward to the presentation of the report on the Ministerial Session and to productive deliberations.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency