22 November 2013
South African President Jacob Zuma and Botswana President Ian Khama, during their meeting in Pretoria on Thursday, stressed the importance of speeding up infrastructure projects to facilitate the movement of goods and people between the two countries.
Zuma met with his Botswana counterpart ahead of the inaugural meeting of the South Africa-Botswana Bi-National Commission, which the two presidents co-hosted.
Speaking to journalists after the commission meeting, Zuma said discussions were under way to look at how resources could be streamlined to boost trade between the two countries.
“It is a question of how … we streamline trade. In this regard, we have taken a decision that our ministers will meet twice a year to evaluate how far the agreements we have signed have been implemented.”
Since the establishment of official relations nearly 20 years ago, South African and Botswana have signed a total of 34 agreements covering various areas such as immigration, defence and security, energy, trade, transport and environmental affairs.
Zuma said the bi-national commission would play a key role in broadening and streamlining cooperation between the two countries.
The establishment of the commission was “a very important development because our relations with Botswana are historical and for us to take them forward is very important. We were able to get a clear report from the ministers of what we need to do going forward.”
Strong economic ties already exist between the two countries, and South Africa remains Botswana’s major trading partner.
South African companies have a huge presence in Botswana and are involved in various sectors, including mining, housing, food and beverages, construction, retail, hotels and leisure, banking and medical services.
Zuma said his meeting with Khama had not only focused on the mutual needs and priorities of both countries, but also brought into sharp focus the importance of regional integration.
The two presidents discussed developments in the region and on the continent, including the situation in Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique.
According to a joint communique issued after the talks, the two leaders commended Madagascar for holding peaceful and credible presidential elections last month, urging the people of Madagascar to maintain the same commitment to democratic processes in the second round of elections scheduled for 20 December.
Khama and Zuma expressed concern over the unfolding security situation in Mozambique, and hoped that the situation would soon be resolved.
In recent weeks, there have been sporadic clashes between former rebel movement Renamo and the Frelimo government, with the former accusing the latter of not honouring the Rome peace agreement they signed in 1992.