New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia an Important Strategic Ally - Khama

Botswana President Seretse Khama Ian Khama says he considers Namibia to be of strategic importance to his landlocked country, and that is why the two countries have embarked on critical bilateral projects, such as the Trans-Kalahari Railway Line.

Other projects mentioned by Khama were the development of the dry port facility at Walvis Bay, the creation of a one-stop border post and the recent inauguration of the undersea fibre-optic cable that will result in increased benefits for the two countries.

Khama said this yesterday when he addressed the Namibian Parliament before winding up his three-day state visit and jetting back to Botswana.

He said the projects, on which the two countries have embarked, will improve market access to regional and international markets, speed up the movement of people and goods between Namibia and Botswana and facilitate regional integration.

"I must stress the urgent need between the two countries to ensure the speedy implementation of these very important projects, which are vital for the development of our economies. I will be going back to Botswana today very pleased and satisfied with what we have accomplished and what we are still to accomplish," he added.

Khama heaped praise on Namibia, saying after 22 years of independence, he was happy to note that Namibia is a beacon of democracy, not only in the region but the world at large.

He attributed this to the holding of free and fair elections, which he said have become the hallmark of "this great nation".

"I have also seen the nature of your countryside, the hills, the mountains, deserts and the sand dunes, but out of all these, you have carved agriculture, mining, tourism and ports and developed them and others, and crafted a sound Namibian economic policy and prudent management of these resources, which led to Namibia being classified a middle-income economy."

Khama said the increasing number of exchange visits at official and personal level between the two countries has also provided the basis for further strengthening of existing bilateral relations.

According to him, the political situation in Southern Africa is relatively peaceful and stable, owing to the collective and concerted efforts of SADC.

"Botswana is encouraged by the positive developments that we have witnessed recently in countries like Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar and Zimbabwe. We remain hopeful that the SADC (Southern African Development Community)-facilitated roadmap leading to free and fair elections will be fully implemented as envisaged by the recent SADC summit held in Luanda, Angola," said Khama.

He commended Namibia for its leadership and patriotism towards SADC, adding that it was through Namibia's relentless efforts that the regional body has made progress in implementing its integration agenda.

Khama urged Namibian politicians to unite, because it does not matter from which political party they come since "whatever you say or do here (in Parliament) or outside must be done in the best interest of Namibia."

"You only have one country and always remember the last lines of your national anthem, 'Namibia our motherland, we love thee'," he said to thundering applause.

"Please be reminded that to the east, you have a neighbour, to the east you have a friend, to the east you have a development partner, to the east you have Botswana."

President Hifikepunye Pohamba and President Khama discussed a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues of common interest during the visit. The two leaders vowed to further expand and develop cooperation between the two countries and to strengthen cooperation in the areas of infrastructure development, energy and fisheries, as well as cooperation in the field of tourism and public health.

The two presidents further expressed the need to expedite the realization of the Trans-Kalahari railway project following their joint inauguration of the West Africa Cable System Connectivity Project (WACS) at Walvis Bay.

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