Botswana: Masisi Salutes SA

Pretoria — President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi was amongst world leaders who attended inauguration of the sixth democratically elected president of South Africa, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, on Saturday.

The event, hosted for the first time outside the country's presidential precinct, the Union Buildings, drew over 30 000 people to the Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria.

In an interview at the Waterkloof Airbase in Pretoria, President Masisi, said Mr Ramaphosa's inauguration was to celebrate a democratic South Africa.

South Africa turned 25 years last month and has been hailed for making significant strides in consolidating democracy and improving the integrity of its people.

"It is one country that was torn apart by oppression and bore the brunt of the apartheid machinery and undemocratic practices but now it warms the heart to see a democratically elected president being inaugurated. I honestly believe what we have been doing in Botswana, a democratic election dispensation, is the right thing to do," he said.

President Masisi pledged support to Mr Ramaphosa when he assumes the chair of the African Union (AU) to realise the Organisation's Vision 2063.

Mr Ramaphosa was announced as chairperson of the AU for 2020, taking over from Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Dr Masisi said he was impressed by Mr Ramaphosa's ambitions for Africa and as a member state of the regional bloc; SADC, he was looking forward to rally behind him.

In his speech, Mr Ramaphosa said he was grateful to nations that made sacrifices and timeless contributions to the liberation of South Africa.

Botswana is one of the countries that helped many freedom fighters as they crossed the borders of South Africa to pursue the struggle against apartheid.

It also played an instrumental role in supporting other liberation movements including SWAPO in Namibia, ZANU PF in Zimbabwe, FRELIMO in Mozambique and MPLA in Angola .

South Africa also acknowledged and marked the momentous Lobatse conference which took place in 1962 as one of the significant turning points in the liberation struggle. It was a historic conference that allowed the African National Congress (ANC) to formally adopt the armed struggle.

Gaborone was the site of one of the most gruesome and brutal attacks perpetrated by the apartheid regime against the people of the two countries when on June 14, 1985 the SADF crossed the borders and attacked innocent people leaving scores dead and some seriously injured.

Relations between Botswana and SA were formalised with the establishment of representative offices in both countries in 1992. The upgrading of relations to full diplomatic level came into force in 1994.

In 2003, former SA president Thabo Mbeki visited Botswana and together with his then counterpart Dr Festus Mogae issued a communique which stated that the two countries had reviewed bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest such as the agreement on the establishment of the Joint Permanent Commission for Cooperation.

The two countries conduct their relations under the Bi-National Commission on Cooperation (BNC) which is presided over by the two heads of State.

In an interview on the sidelines of the inaugural ceremony Botswana High Commissioner based in Pretoria Mr Lameck Nthekela said the countries enjoyed cordial relations, which were informed by cultural ties and geographical proximity.

He said they cooperated on a wide range of areas including transport, trade and investment, health, agriculture and immigration amongst others.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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