Joint Communiqué on the State Visit to the Republic of Botswana by His Excellency Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa
His Excellency Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma paid a two day State Visit to the Republic of Botswana from 29th to 30th August 2012 at the invitation of His Excellency Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana. This was a reciprocal visit following the State Visit to the Republic of South Africa by His Excellency Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama in October 2010.
His Excellency President Zuma was accompanied by seven (7) Ministers, Senior Government Officials as well as a business delegation.
The two Heads of State met for private discussions before the Official Talks.
The Official Talks were attended by South African Ministers accompanying President Zuma, and their Botswana counterparts. A minute of silence in memory of the 44 people who died in the Marikana tragedy was observed before commencement of the Official Talks.
The Presidents discussed bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest. On bilateral co-operation, Their Excellencies underscored the excellent relations that subsist between Botswana and South Africa, founded on the deep historical, cultural, linguistic and family ties, as well as shared values of mutual respect, commitment to democracy, good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Issues which are key to the bilateral relations of the two countries including immigration, defence and security, energy, trade, transport and environment were discussed.
The Presidents made special mention of the energy needs of Botswana and South Africa with specific reference to the development of the Mmamabula Coal Fired Power Station and the Power Supply Agreement. The need to expedite cross-border transport and infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges was also emphasised. In addition, the Presidents urged Ministers responsible for Defence, Justice and Security to intensify efforts to combat illicit drug trafficking and poaching of endangered species such as elephants and rhinos, which is on the rise.
Three cooperation agreements were signed during the State Visit in order to further enhance the excellent bilateral relations and co-operation between the two countries. These were the Agreement Establishing the Bi-national Commission; the Memorandum of Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Energy and the Memorandum of Understanding on Regional Environmental and Social Assessment of Coal-Based Energy Projects.
The signing of the agreement establishing the Bi-national Commission was one of the major highlights of the State Visit by President Zuma.
The Bi-national Commission is a framework for cooperation which elevates the two existing bilateral co-operation frameworks, namely the Joint Permanent Commission on Co-operation (JPCC) and the Joint Permanent Commission for Co-operation on Defence and Security (JPCDS), from Ministerial level to Head of State level. The Bi-national Commission will convene annually, chaired by Their Excellencies, and it will meet alternately between Gaborone and Pretoria.
On regional and international issues, His Excellency President Khama congratulated South Africa on the appointment of Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma as the new Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
The two Heads of State discussed the political and security situation in Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar and Syria. On Zimbabwe, His Excellency President Khama commended President Zuma for the role he continues to play to facilitate the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement and the Roadmap to Elections. The two Presidents urged the political parties in Zimbabwe to set and adhere to the timelines for the adoption of the new Constitution, holding of the referendum and elections.
The two Heads of State expressed grave concern over the deteriorating political and security situation in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They further expressed hope that all the Parties concerned would fully co-operate with the SADC Mission deployed in the DRC to resolve this issue.
Regarding Madagascar, His Excellency President Khama commended President Zuma’s efforts, as the former Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, to end Madagascar’s political impasse and assist the country to return to constitutional normalcy. The two Heads of State encouraged the political leaders of Madagascar to fully commit to implement the SADC Roadmap for ending the political crisis in that country.
On Syria, the two Presidents expressed hope that the new UN-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, would succeed in his assignment to end the political crisis in that country.
His Excellency President Khama hosted a State Luncheon in honour of President Zuma. Following the State Luncheon, His Excellency President Zuma addressed the Botswana-South Africa Business Seminar, the purpose of which was to encourage business linkages between the two countries with a view to facilitate increased trade and investment.
After the Business Seminar, His Excellency President Zuma visited the Extension 14 Cemetery where he laid wreaths on the graves of the victims of the 14th June Gaborone Raids by the South African Apartheid regime. President Zuma thanked the people and Government of Botswana for the support extended to the South Africans during the liberation struggle.
Thereafter, His Excellency President Zuma’s itinerary took him to the Agriculture Show where he unveiled a plaque symbolising the opening of the new Agriculture Show site. He then flew to Kasane where he visited the site formerly used by South African freedom fighters as a crossing point to other countries, as well the Baobab tree that was used as a prison cell by Botswana in the past.
President Zuma also toured the Diamond Trading Company before departing Botswana in the afternoon of 30th August 2012.
His Excellency President Jacob Zuma expressed gratitude to His Excellency President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, the Government and people of the Republic of Botswana for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to him and his delegation.