Address by President Nelson Mandela at a State Banquet hosted by His Majesty, King Moshoeshoe II of the Kingdom of Lesotho

12 July 1995

Your Majesty King Moshoeshoe II;
Your Majesty Queen Mamohato;
Your Royal Highness Prince Mohato;
Mr Prime Minister and Mrs Mokhehle
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is indeed a great and singular honour to be in the Kingdom of Lesotho tonight. I am mindful of being amongst a people who have fought as valiantly for our freedom as for your own.

The threads of history, language and daily experience hold our people so closely that the bond between us goes beyond that of friendship and alliance. It is more akin to that of compatriots. It is therefore deeply moving to be with you, and to be received with such warmth and generosity.

Although the ties between our people go back so many years, only now can they flourish to their full potential, under conditions of our own choosing. With the defeat of apartheid our two countries, a democratic South Africa and a Lesotho free of the shadow of destablisation, can look forward to a relationship of mutual benefit and between equal partners.

The promotion of economic development in Southern Africa is of paramount importance to South Africa. The economies of the region are so intertwined that no one country can enter a prosperous future in isolation. We need a new form of economic interaction in Southern Africa, based on principles of mutual benefit and interdependence. We need integrated strategies for balanced growth and equitable relations of trade and investment, and a joint approach to regional infrastructure.

The Southern African Development Community provides a framework within which this new order is already taking shape. The new era has been made possible by the post-apartheid stability which our region has found. And there is no going back.

If there are good reasons for the countries of Southern Africa to co-operate with each other, then history and geography make them all the stronger in the case of Lesotho and South Africa.

The progress being made in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project is encouraging indeed. The benefits which this bold co-operative venture will bring to each of our countries, shine as a beacon guiding us to further joint efforts.

It is an unhappy aspect of our times that the security forces of Lesotho and South Africa need to devote such extensive resources to combatting cross-border crime. The success they have recently been achieving should, however, be reinforced by the Extradition Treaty just signed.

South Africa is pleased that it can, through its official development assistance, make a direct, if humble, contribution to Lesotho's development. And we are confident that the hurdles encountered in the discussions concerning the South African Customs Union will soon be surmounted.

Ladies and gentlemen;

If our region is to enjoy prosperity, then democracy will have to be carefully nurtured and jealously guarded. The countries of the region, having fought together for freedom, are committed to working together to ensure lasting peace. In a community of nations so interdependent, the stability of each is of interest to all.

We were greatly encouraged by the co-operation among the countries of Southern Africa to defend Lesotho's democracy, national reconciliation and peace. We are heartened by the progress so far in implementing the provisions of the understanding which resulted.

We hope, most sincerely, that the people of Lesotho will be blessed with further success in pursuit of these ideals. South Africa stands ready to assist.

We look forward to the deepening and expansion of our relations. We do so in full recognition of the immeasurable contribution of the people of Lesotho to the realisation of democracy in South Africa, and with gratitude for your sacrifices.

Your Majesty; Distinguished guests;

Let us raise our glasses and drink to the health of King Moshoeshoe II, to the Basotho nation, and to the furtherance of prosperous and meaningful relations between our two countries.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation