Gaborone — President Lt Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama has commended Mr Cyril Ramaphosa for his election as president of South Africa.
Immediately after his arrival in Gaborone on Saturday (March 3), Mr Ramaphosa held consultative talks with President Khama at the Office of the President, where the two leaders discussed bilateral talks on matters of mutual interest affecting the SADC region, including peace and security.
President Ramaphosa in his capacity as the chairperson of the Southern African Development Community was in Botswana on a one day working visit.
Speaking after a courtesy call by Mr Ramaphosa on Saturday (March 3), President Khama said Botswana and South Africa continued to maintain good relations as partners in various aspects of economic development.
President Khama also used the courtesy call to introduce Mr Mokgweetsi Masisi as the next President of the country. Lt Gen. Dr Khama will be stepping down from the presidency end of March.
President Khama explained that "Batswana and South Africans are one people because the two share many things in common particularly in areas of culture and tradition."
For his part, Mr Ramaphosa thanked Batswana for their support when South Africa was still under the apartheid regime of the minority white people.
He said the visit to Botswana was meant to consolidate and further strengthen the relationship between the two countries.
"Botswana and South Africa have strong bonds and our visit here is to consolidate and strengthen our relationship," he added.
Mr Ramaphosa reiterated South Africa's readiness to work closely with Mr Masisi when he assumes the presidency of the country in April, adding that South Africa was ready to continue to partner with Botswana.
In terms of economic development, president Ramaphosa said South Africa would also work closely with Botswana in areas of tourism, trade and conservation amongst others, and thanked the two countries for the 'healthy' relationship.
As it is the norm and standard practice, president Ramaphosa, as the chairperson of SADC, visited the regional bloc's headquarters to meet with the secretariat and staff and receive updates on the operation of the organisation.
In her welcome remarks, SADC executive secretary, Dr Stergomena Tax congratulated president Ramaphosa for assuming the presidency of South Africa.
"Your election as a leader of the African National Congress (ANC) and president of the Republic of South Africa bears testimony of the confidence that the people of South Africa have in your leadership," she said.
She said president Ramaphosa's visit just a few days in office, was a sign of commitment to SADC and the regional integration agenda.
Dr Tax assured president Ramaphosa that the secretariat was committed towards implementing the SADC Integration Agenda and would do its best to ensure implementation of the SADC agenda for peace, security and social economic development and the well-being of the SADC region.
She said over the years, the mandate of SADC had been expanding, but the expansion had not been matched by the needed resources and this had put the secretariat under a lot of strain by undermining its effectiveness.
"It is our hope that with your leadership, the region will focus on the set priorities with a view to improve effectiveness and attainment of the region's set priorities, and let the member states and other stakeholders implement what can be more effectively implemented at the national level based on the principle of subsidiarity," she added.
The updates would include progress on the implementation of the decisions on the 36th SADC Summit held in Swaziland in August 2016.
In response, Mr Ramaphosa explained that SADC was an important structure because it existed to represents the interest of millions of people in Southern Africa.
He explained that it was only through peace and stability that SADC could achieve its regional integration to expand its economic development and improve the lives of the people living in Southern Africa.
Mr Ramaphosa further said it was through regional integration that SADC should find ways to improve the lives of its people during the trying times where economies of countries were not growing as expected.
He said there was still more to be done to enhance regional integration hence the need to focus on other sectors such as tourism in order to open up channels of economic growth because the region 'has a great deal' to offer to the world.
He said it was pleasing to see that tourism was growing at an appreciable level in all the countries in the region as well as the need to utilise natural resources such as mining and conservation.
He said industrialisation remained an important area that SADC should concentrate on to open up channels of growth in the industrialisation and manufacturing area of economic growth.