Address by President Nelson Mandela at a banquet in honour of President Masire of Botswana, Cape Town

23 April 1996

Your Excellency President Masire and Lady Masire;
Deputy Presidents;
Honorable Ministers;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Your words of encouragement to the Constitutional Assembly this morning, Mr President, as our legislators finalise South Africa's new constitution, will remain deeply etched in our hears for years to come.

They reminded us of the joy across the sub-continent 30 years ago, when Botswana gained her independence and set out on the course of democratic majority rule. They reminded us of the intervening period of blood and sweat as the people of your country sacrificed to ensure that their brothers and sisters in Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa too, attain their freedom and dignity.

They also reminded us of the tenacity of the Botswana people to protect and nurture democracy and to achieve high rates of economic growth in the midst of adversity.

And so, we in South Africa have the opportunity today to play host to you, and through you, to embrace the people of Botswana in a gesture of gratitude and defence.

The irony of our history is that such friends and allies for generations, could only exchange official state visits only now, as the century draws to a close.

It is therefore with great joy that I welcome President and Lady Masire to the free South Africa for which we have all been striving. I sincerely hope that you feel just as comfortable here as we felt in your country.

We are proud that the special relationship between our countries is rapidly coming of age. This underlines the fact that the bonds of history, geography and culture that nature has decreed, apartheid could not rend apart.

Mr President;

South Africa's democracy is now almost two years old; and it is poised for even better expression in our new constitution.

Freedom from apartheid brings the opportunity for South Africans to address their basic needs. While we have no illusion about the enormity of the task, we have no doubts about the successes we are registering. Freedom from destabilisation brings also the opportunity for building equitable relations between our countries, and for us jointly to contribute to the development of our Southern African region and our continent as a whole.

Our country has much to learn from Botswana - both from your towering successes and your efforts to deal with the difficulties.

All these attributes have made Botswana, and you. Mr President, a natural and capable leader of the region's collective efforts towards growth and development, within the framework of SADC. We also value your leadership in the region's efforts to promote peace and stability on our sub-continent and further afield.

In all these spheres, South Africa stands ready to work with Botswana and other neighbours to attain the best for our peoples.

The rapid development of bilateral relations between our two countries has brought increasing co-operation in almost every area of government and the private sector. Many of our Cabinet Ministers and members of provincial executives have visited Botswana, and so have senior leaders from Botswana visited South Africa, over the last two years.

Our bilateral discussion earlier today underlined the progress that is being made in completing negotiations on the customs union and in other bilateral and multilateral matters. So should it be among friends, neighbours and partners in development.

Mr President;

Your visit has afforded us the opportunity to bestow on you the Order of Good Hope.

In doing so, we recognise not only the self-sacrificing support which you and your people gave to the people of South Africa, but also your contribution to creating the framework within which we can all pursue the still greater challenge of regional peace and development.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

I ask you to rise and raise your glasses in drinking a toast to President Masire and the people of Botswana, and to the ever deepening bonds of friendship between our peoples.

Issued by: Office of the President


Source: South African Government Information Website