Gaborone — The relationship between Botswana and South Africa remains strong and robust as the two countries share a special bond of friendship, says the Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation Dr Unity Dow .
She was speaking during the 25th anniversary of South Africa's independence on May 8.
Dr Dow said the two neighbouring countries had strong historical bonds and were also trading partners.
"As a result of the strategic partnership and good neighbourliness, our two countries established a Bi-National Commission in 2012, which continues to ensure annual interaction at summit level. Through this forum, we have succeeded in further enhancing our bilateral cooperation in many areas such as trade, education, and training, water, energy, agriculture, health and security," she said.
Dr Dow reaffirmed Botswana's commitment to continue working closely with the government of South Africa at bilateral, regional and international level for the mutual benefit of the people of the region.
She congratulated the government and the people of South Africa for the inspirational journey they started 25 years ago noting that many older democracies that could learn a lot from the country.
Dr Dow said apartheid had finally ended and South Africa was starting a new chapter where peace, stability and inclusive prosperity were possible.
"All people who had suffered and struggled under the yoke of racism became an inspiration, not just for Africa but for the entire world, when they demonstrated that a balance could be struck between justice and reconciliation, between acknowledging the wrongs of the past while looking forward to a future that embraces everyone," she added.
She said from the first vote in April 1994, South Africa had established itself as the land of freedom of speech, conscience, and assembly.
There could be no greater evidence for freedom of speech, conscience and assembly than the holding of elections, she asserted.
For her part, South African High Commissioner to Botswana Ms Rosemary Mashaba said 25 years on, South Africa had made significant strides in consolidating democracy, improving the lives of its people, contributing to rebuilding and integration of the region, advancing human rights as well as promoting peace and prosperity.
"Like any new nation, we have gained valuable experience in the past 25 years on how we can better the lives of our people. President Cyril Ramaphosa has made great strides in attracting foreign direct investment through a dedicated investment drive. Similarly ongoing efforts to strengthen state-owned enterprises and measures being undertaken to improve public and investor confidence is yielding good results," she said.
She also buttressed the historic ties, especially cultural, language and family links between her country and Botswana.
Ms Mashaba reiterated South Africa's commitment to continued cooperation with Botswana in pursuit of shared prosperity within the rubric of a changing world.
"Our two countries are working tirelessly to ensure successful implementation of the SADC industrialisation strategy and roadmap," she said adding that industrialisation was essential for the transformation of the regional economy in terms of productivity, efficiency diversification and competitiveness.
South African independence day, dubbed Freedom Day, commemorate the historic occasion in 1994 when South Africa achieved freedom and democracy.
This years' celebration comes at a time South Africa holds its 6th national and provincial general elections under the theme, Celebrating 25 years of democracy.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>