Address by President Nelson Mandela at a reception hosted by the South African High Commissioner of Botswana

6 September 1995

Your Excellency High Commissioner Mokou;
Honourable Ministers;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Distinguished Guests;
Fellow South Africans;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Allow me to thank High Commissioner Mokou for this reception and for the tremendous work he is doing as the representative of our nation in this country. The warm relations that exist between Botswana and South Africa are partly due to his hard work. The embrace we have felt since our arrival in this country tempts one to say it was indeed a good decision to appoint someone of his calibre who knows Botswana as he does!

Ladies and gentlemen;

I am overwhelmed by the enthusiasm that has marked our first ever official state visit to neighbouring Botswana. It shows how strong the friendship is between our countries. This is an asset we must consolidate and nurture.

For its part, Botswana has shown the importance she attaches to intensifying bilateral relations and regional co-operation by establishing not only a High Commission in South Africa, but two consulates as well.

On our part, closer relations between South Africa and all our neighbours has the highest priority. For that is the key to the successful reconstruction and development of our country. Our strategy for economic growth cannot be based exclusively on trade with far away countries, while ignoring countries in the sub-continent. That was the folly of the past. The key to the prosperity of this region is close co-operation between all member states. No country can prosper on its own.

The potential for growth in the region stems from the abundant natural and human resources it possesses as well as its technological know-how. Systematic and co-ordinated exploitation of these resources will bring balanced economic growth across the region.

The Southern African Development Community provides a framework within which this new order is already taking shape, and the Summit we have just held will accelerate that process.

These positive developments are, however, just the beginning of the enormous challenge of building the SADC into the mighty engine of development that its visionary founders dreamed of.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

We are proud to work with Botswana in promoting peace in our region. The commitment of the nations of Southern Africa to peace and democracy allowed Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa to move promptly to conserve and entrench democracy in Lesotho.

We also appreciate Botswana's approach to issues within the Southern African Customs Union. The issues are often difficult, but with a common commitment to the broader interest, we will find solutions that are to the benefit of all.

There are many possibilities besides economic relations for co-operation between our two countries, but I should say that joint action to combat crime is currently one that is accorded the highest importance. The South African Government is determined to bring crime rates down to acceptable levels. To achieve this requires co-operation among law-enforcement agencies in our countries.

However, economic development will, in the longer term, undo the socio-economic conditions responsible for a large part of the problem of crime.

Economic indicators are promising. Encouraged by the stability we have found and by the opportunities opened by our programme of reconstruction and development, investment is on the increase, both domestic and foreign. Our trade with countries throughout the world, including Botswana, is on the increase.

All this however will come to naught if we do not succeed in working together, as a region and as neighbours, to ensure growth and development throughout our region, to bring a better life for all who live in it.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

I now ask you to raise your glasses and drink to the growing relations between the Republics of Botswana and South Africa.

I thank you all.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation