22 April 2022

Your Excellency Dr. Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, Co-Chair and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa;

Honourable Ministers from our respective countries;

Co-Chairs of the Senior Officials;

Your Excellency Ms. InThaninga P. Shope-Soumah, High Commissioner of the Republic of South Africa to Botswana;

Your Excellency Ms. Tshenolo C. Modise, High Commissioner of the Republic of Botswana to South Africa;

Senior Officials from our two countries.

Members of the Media.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning!



1. Let me start by thanking you, Madame Co-Chair, for the warm words of welcome. We also wish to express our sincere gratitude for the wonderful hospitality accorded to me and my delegation, since our arrival in this breath-taking city of Tshwane.

2. Co-Chair, our meeting comes at a time when the entire world is still grappling with the negative socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which not only interrupted lives, but also stole the lives of many of our dear ones.

3. While the world is still reeling in shock following the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic, its socio, economic effects can be felt in every nook, and corner of the globe.

4. Just when we thought we were still learning how to live with the pandemic, climate change also unleashes its devastating blow in some parts of our region.

5. In this respect, we have been deeply touched by the ferocious intensity as well as the devastating impact of the heavy floods that ripped through the Kwa Zulu-Natal during the past few days.

6. On behalf of the government and people of Botswana we share the loss and the pain at the untold damage to infrastructure and property incurred by people of KZN. We also equally send our condolences and sympathy to the families of those who perished.

7. We are however confident that, as before, the resilient people of this province will rise, reconstruct their lives and rebuild their economy.

8. At this juncture, let me humbly request that we take a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic and the KwaZulu-Natal floods.

9. Thank you. May Their Souls Continue to Rest in Eternal Peace! We hope their families will find strength and solace in the Lord Almighty during these difficult times.

10. Let me commend you, Madame Co-Chair, for having found it fitting to convene our Bi-National Commission, despite the challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, and for putting in place all the necessary health measures to ensure a safe environment for the meeting.

11. I have also observed with great appreciation the excellent facilities availed to our disposal. I am confident that these will significantly facilitate our meeting, and our stay in Tshwane.

12. Co-Chair, it is pleasing to note that, despite the many daunting challenges, our two countries continue to enjoy excellent bilateral relations, predicated on a firm historical background, common culture and close family ties.

13. Our strong relations have not only stood the test of time, but also the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, as our commitment to our friendship and bilateral cooperation remains steadfast. Our meeting here today is indeed testament to our friendship and solid commitment to work closely together, in our efforts to further advance and broaden our bilateral cooperation agenda.

14. As you already indicated, Co-Chair, we are meeting today to validate the work of our Senior Officials, in readiness for the Heads of State Segment of our Bi-National Commission, tomorrow morning.

15. In this regard, I wish to commend our Officials for the manner in which they continue to tackle the issues defining our bilateral cooperation. There is no doubt that they continue to face many challenges in implementing the decisions of the BNC, particularly given the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

16. It is, however, regrettable to note that we will not be signing any additional legal instruments during this Session of the BNC, despite the prolonged break we have had between our meetings.

17. Therefore, it is imperative that we fully utilise other available platforms, such as advanced digital technology, to ensure continuation of our engagements, both at the political and technical levels to facilitate the finalisation of all pending legal instruments with a view to ensuring their readiness for the signing by the next Midterm meeting.

18. Madame Co-Chair, while acknowledging that there are many issues underpinning our bilateral cooperation, I believe that the post COVID-19 economic recovery programs should form the main basis of this year’s long-awaited meeting of the BNC. This is mainly because these programs are currently at the forefront of our respective countries’ national priorities.

19. The negative socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic dictates that we refocus our efforts in economic diplomacy, so as to identify strategies that can contribute to improved economic growth, and uplifting of the livelihoods of our nationals.

20. In this regard, strengthening trade and investment between our two countries, the SADC region and indeed our continent, can have significant impact in revamping our battered economies. As such, it is imperative that we urgently conclude all outstanding issues in the area of trade and investment, particularly issues pertaining to non-tariff barriers to trade on scrap metals, as well as agricultural products and equipment.

21. Co-Chair, there is no doubt that our two countries place a high premium on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). To this end, I believe these are areas where we can have a regional approach through partnership and collaborations. This can include mega infrastructural projects in the transport, energy, tourism, agricultural and other sectors, which have abundant potential for joint investments. I believe we can both protect and advance our national economies, whilst allowing mutually beneficial partnerships at bilateral and regional levels.

22. I am confident that this task might be challenging, but it is definitely not insurmountable. Through our joint efforts and strong determination, we can overcome many challenges impeding progress in further advancing our relations.

23. Before I conclude, let me once again commend you, Madam Minister, for your assumption of the Chairship of the Ministerial Committee of the SADC Organ on Defence, Politics and Security (MCO). I also wish to reassure you of my personal support, and that of the Government of Botswana, throughout your tenure at the helm of the MCO.

24. With these few remarks, I wish to once again thank you, Madame Co-Chair, for the warm reception and generous hospitality extended to me and my delegation since our arrival. I look forward to fruitful deliberations on the report before us from our Senior Officials.

I thank you!

Ke a Leboga!


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