14 October 2005
South Africa and Botswana have committed to strengthen their already “excellent” relations, after delegations led by Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and her Botswanan counterpart, Mompati Merafhe, met in Tshwane for the second session of the SA-Botswana commission for cooperation.
The meeting follows up on September talks between the two countries’ senior officials in Gaborone. Botswana’s President Festus Mogae will visit South Africa in late October.
During Thursday’s meeting the two ministers discussed economic and social issues, local government, security and stability, and foreign policy.
The two ministers renewed their commitment to participate in programmes of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development to foster development on the continent.
They also discussed border control issues – including the possibility of opening borders for longer – with a view to making it easier for people and goods to move between the two countries.
“Although we already have excellent relations with Botswana, including in trade, health and agriculture, these must be nurtured,” Dlamini-Zuma said. “We had fruitful discussions in this regard.”
“Relations between us are excellent, but we cannot take them for granted,” Merafhe said. “We have to ensure that they are nurtured and that lines of communication are kept open.”
Merafhe also expressed Botswana’s appreciation of the role South Africa has played in conflict resolution in Africa, such as in Cote d’ Ivoire.