Opening Remarks by President Zuma on the 4th Bi-National Commission between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Botswana, Gaborone

Your Excellency, President Ian Khama Seretse Khama;

Honourable Ministers;

Your Excellencies, High Commissioners;

Senior Officials from our respective Governments;

Members of the Media;

Allow me to first thank you, Mr President for your warm and kind words of welcome. I equally wish to thank you and your Government for the hospitality extended to us since our arrival in Botswana.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We meet here this morning at a time when one of our sister countries, Zimbabwe, is experiencing political and security challenges.

Mr President, we note with great concern the unfolding political developments in Zimbabwe and hope that they would not lead to unconstitutional change of government.

We urge all the parties to ensure that maintenance of peace and security as enshrined in their constitution is not compromised.

As SADC, in keeping with our established protocols and processes, we stand ready to provide all the necessary support to the people of Zimbabwe to resolve the current political impasse.

Mr President, on the occasion of this the 4th Session of the Bi-National Commission between our two Republics, we are happy to note that our bilateral cooperation has greatly expanded since the establishment of the BNC.

We cooperate in many fields including education, health, agriculture, trade and investment, energy, science and technology, immigration, justice, security, tourism, environmental matters, water, transport, to mention but a few.

The BNC has thus provided a momentum in strengthening our relations as demonstrated by the existence of over thirty agreements and memoranda of understanding.

We should now prioritise implementation of these legal and enabling instruments. Based on this assessment, Mr President, we were therefore perfectly correct to establish our BNC.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As we implement our agreements, we also need to pay a particular focus on economic cooperation. This will help address poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.

We cannot overemphasise the importance of cross border economic projects, economic zones, economic diversification and industrialisation.

Mr President,

One area that needs to be further strengthened is cultural cooperation at a government to government level by fully implementing the 2005 Memorandum of Understanding on Culture.

We note with appreciation though a dynamic interface among our artists and cultural groups.

Ladies and gentlemen,

With regards to our neighbourhood – SADC, it is vitally important to advance regional integration by assisting in dealing with remaining peace and security challenges and implementation of SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Its Action Plan.

During our chairship of SADC, we will prioritise the implementation of identified regional projects.

With regards to our Continent, we remain totally committed not only to the unity of the Continent but also to the implementation of AU Agenda 2063, especially continental integration and silencing of the Guns by 2020.

Your Excellency;

Let me conclude by once more thanking you for inviting us to visit your beautiful country.

I look forward to our deliberations, which I hope will set in motion a strategic direction towards enhanced cooperation and partnership between our sister Republics in keeping with the historical and cultural bonds that uniquely bind us.

I thank you

Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa