Address by President Nelson Mandela at banquet hosted by President Masire of Botswana

5 September 1995

Your Excellency President Masire and First Lady
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to thank you, Mr President, for the kind invitation to visit your lovely country. The hospitality extended to us since our arrival has made us feel as if we are at home.

And indeed, the bond between Botswana and South Africa is deeper still than that of neighbours, friends and allies. We share history, customs, and experiences; and we are at one that prosperity for our peoples depends on hard work, co-operation and commitment to justice, democracy and respect for human rights.

The ties between our peoples reach far in to the past, yet it is only now that they can flourish to their full potential. With the defeat of apartheid, democratic South Africa and Botswana can look forward to a relationship of mutual benefit between equal partners.

On a personal note, Mr President, this visit kindles old memories. On my first ever visit abroad in 1962, I travelled through this country. Our situations then were in stark contrast. Botswana, or Bechuanaland as it was called, was undergoing her peaceful pre-independence phase. Freedom was beckoning on the horizon. In South Africa, the dark clouds of apartheid repression were descending. We were still recovering from the shock waves of the Sharpeville massacre; thousands of patriots were in detention and the liberation movement had just embarked on the arduous path of armed struggle. Our thirst for freedom had turned us into outlaws.

Little did we know that our sub-continent was entering an era of hostilities, cross-border raids and systematic destruction of infrastructure. The hospitality you extended to me then was to become characteristic of the way Batswana treated opponents of apartheid, despite the reign of terror unleashed against you by our oppressors. We stuck to each other through thick and thin.

Today we are free citizens of fully-fledged democracies. We meet as partners and neighbours with discussions we held today will, I have no doubt, open the way for the further development of all-round bilateral relations between our countries, and enhance the contribution we can make to our region.

And let us make it clear, that the success of your multi-party democracy has, over the years, served as an inspiration for us. And as we strive to put together our permanent constitution, there is a lot in your experience that we have drawn from.

Mr President;

The promotion of economic development throughout Southern Africa is of paramount importance to South Africa. The economies of the region are intertwined and we can only prosper together. Economic interaction, based on principles of mutual interdependence, will turn our region into a powerful force for development and an economic bloc strong enough to make its mark in an increasingly regionalised and competitive international market.

Integrated strategies for balanced growth and a joint approach to regional infrastructure will enhance the attractiveness of the entire region. We are fortunate to have Botswana as a partner. We have much to learn from your economic achievements.

The Southern African Development Community, under your able chairmanship, provides a framework for the emergence of these new relations. During the past year the Community has taken great strides forward. The agreements on water and power co-operation reached at last week's summit will draw the community even closer. Strategies for economic integration are taking shape. It is due to such developments that the European Community singled out Southern Africa as a viable region with which it can do business. Indeed, Botswana's chairmanship of SADC has put us on the world map.

We are equally committed to the same principles within the Southern African Customs Union, and in that spirit our government commits itself to facilitate the completion of negotiations on its restructuring, in such a way that all the member countries will benefit.

This is a new era for our region, made possible by the post-apartheid stability which it now experiences.

Hand in hand with our neighbours we can share and exchange technical know-how, encourage scientific co-operation, and promote development in areas such as agriculture, research, environmental monitoring and protection as well as in the vast field of health.

South Africa is also very proud to have worked alongside your country and Zimbabwe to promote the entrenchment of democracy in Lesotho.

Ladies and gentlemen;

We look forward to continuing growth in trade and investment between Botswana and South Africa, and to expanded all-round co-operation.

South Africa is pleased that it can, through its official development assistance, make a humble contribution to Botswana's development.

Ongoing discussions between officials of our governments on the subject of co-operation in defence, security and crime control have the greatest importance for our countries and for the stability of the region.

It was as part of this drive for stability that a delegation led by our Defence Minister, Joe Modise, visited this country last month to discuss a defence co-operation agreement - an agreement which will be to the advantage of the whole region in helping to assure stability and peace.

The emergence of democracies in Southern Africa is regarded by international crime syndicates as an opportunity to establish a foothold in our region. Joint action to combat cross-border crime is necessary to defeat these evil plans, and we look forward to effective co-operation between South Africa and Botswana to this end.

Your Excellency;

Allow me to say in conclusion how honoured we feel to be here today. May this visit serve as a symbol of the spirit of goodwill which exists between our two countries and may this be the beginning of ever increasing mutual co-operation, integration, growth and stability in our region.

Ladies and gentlemen;

Please join me in drinking a toast to the good health of His Excellency, Sir Ketumile Masire; to the prosperity of the people of Botswana; and to the ever-deepening bonds of friendship between our peoples.


Issued by: Office of the President

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation