Honourable Dr. Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa
Your Excellencies, the High Commissioners of the Republic of Namibia and the Republic of South Africa
Distinguished Senior Officials from Namibia and South Africa Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like at the outset to warmly welcome you and your delegation to Windhoek, and to thank you, my dear sister, for accepting my invitation for us to have Diplomatic and Political Consultations today. We are indeed pleased to host this very important meeting that affords the stage to further consolidate our bilateral relations.
Comrade Minister and Co-Chair,
Before proceeding further, allow me to pay tribute to all those who have sadly succumbed to COVID-19 May I kindly request that we observe a minute of silence in their honour.
We are meeting during an unprecedented time when our countries and the wider global community are faced with many challenges, including the ongoing scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic which is now in its third wave with experts now warning of an imminent fourth wave. The threat of the Coronavirus pandemic has unprecedentedly negatively affected trade worldwide and presented our nations with many new threats and challenges, some of which we never anticipated. Namibia, with the limited resources at its disposal, is facing challenges in the prevention and management the Covid-19 pandemic.
Comrade Minister, the best way to combat the pandemic is through a sustained united, global and multilateral approach, as no country has been spared from this pandemic. It is against this background Comrade Minister, that I wish to commend the Republic of South Africa for the continued steps taken by your Government to contain the spread of the deadly Coronavirus.
Hon. Minister, as you would recall when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, all countries closed their borders, including Namibia and South Africa. I wish to register my appreciation and gratitude to the Government of South Africa for enabling trade and commerce of basic goods to move freely between our borders.
I also wish to thank the Government of South Africa for facilitating the safe repatriation and transit through South Africa, of many of Namibians who were stranded abroad, when countries instituted lockdowns. Equally, we were able to assist the smooth passage of many South Africans citizens to return home.
This culture of generosity between our two nations also came to light when the Government of the Republic of South Africa pledged a donation of R100 million towards our drought relief efforts, when we had a period of recurrent drought from 2015 to 2019.
The spirit with which our two countries collaborated was indeed consistent with the strong bonds of friendship and solidarity that tie our two nations.
Namibia and South Africa enjoy warm and mutually supportive bilateral relations as reflected by the frequency and reciprocity of high level visits and the intensive nature of bilateral cooperation.
There are currently 91 signed bilateral Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding between Namibia and South Africa. This is the highest number that the Republic of Namibia has signed with any bilateral partner.
South Africa continues to be one of Namibia’s biggest economic partner, while our currency continues to be pegged to the South African Rand.
A vast majority of Namibian students continue to receive their post-graduate education at South African universities.
Direct airlinks between Windhoek and Johannesburg, Windhoek and Cape Town, Walvis Bay and Cape Town continue to bring our people closer together.
Against the backdrop of such intensive cooperation and close people-to-people cooperation, both governments agreed to elevate their Heads of State Bilateral Economic Meeting to a Bi-National Commission (BNC), which is co-chaired by our respective Heads of State.
Indeed, this is testament to the importance both countries attach to the consolidating their relationship.
Equally this is the foundation which characterizes our joint efforts towards the advancement of our development agenda in the SADC region, as well as at the continental level, where we aspire to realise the Africa We Want, namely Agenda 2063.
Our consultations today will afford us an opportunity to exchange views on the state of our bilateral relations and cooperation, regional, continental and multilateral issues of mutual interest and concern.
The fact that we are meeting amidst a pandemic is a clear testimony of our commitment to further consolidate the strong and warm relations that so happily exist between our two countries.
I wish ourselves fruitful deliberations aimed at deepening and broadening our bilateral cooperation.
At this stage, I now invite you Hon. Minister, to deliver your remarks. I thank you!