Opening Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa, during the Official Talks on the occasion of the Namibia State Visit, Union Buildings, Tshwane, 20 April 2023
Your Excellency and Dear Brother, President Dr Hage Geingob,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to begin by thanking you, Your Excellency, for honouring our invitation.
Too many years have passed since the last state visit to South Africa by the Republic of Namibia in November 2012.
A great many things have changed our world since then, including the global COVID-19 pandemic that wreaked havoc across the globe.
The pandemic had a devastating impact on human health, livelihoods and economic activity, and it will take us some time to fully recover
Therefore, as we further cement our strong bilateral relations, we need to work together for a swift economic and social recovery for our respective countries, for the region and for our continent.
It is gratifying that officials from our two countries continue to engage at various levels.
The most recent structured engagement was the Senior Officials Meeting of the 3rd South Africa-Namibia Bi-National Commission that took place in Windhoek in March this year.
I am pleased with the work that has been done in preparation for the upcoming BNC, which is scheduled to take place in Namibia later this year.
Yesterday, Namibia’s Minister in the Presidency and South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation had the opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest. This engagement will be valuable for our discussions today.
As we sign new Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding during this visit, it is important that we conduct an audit of all existing legal instruments between our two countries in preparation for the upcoming BNC.
We need to be certain that they are fit-for-purpose and that they continue to serve our respective developmental goals.
As neighbours with deep historical ties, we share the same aspirations for our people – development, employment, equality and prosperity.
We are therefore committed to deepen our cooperation, particularly in the area of trade and investment.
It is unfortunate that, due to other events taking place this week, we were not able to convene a Business Forum on the sidelines of this State Visit.
However, we are determined that a South Africa-Namibia Business Forum should take place this year.
It is an opportunity to bring our respective private sectors together to promote investment, trade and potential new areas for cooperation.
Namibia is one of South Africa’s top trading partners in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
We must use our geographic proximity and the close ties between our respective economies for greater mutual benefit.
One of the areas to expand cooperation is in energy investment.
For example, how do we leverage the growing demand for new, clean technologies like green hydrogen to promote cross-border development?
Both our countries are planning massive hydrogen projects.
Such projects are key to the energy security of South Africa and Namibia, and will catalyse economic growth and job creation in both our countries.
We need to look at how we collaborate, as our respective governments, state-owned enterprises and private companies, to seize this great opportunity.
Our shared history enjoins us to pursue a common future.
It is imperative that we implement the African Continental Free Trade Area to deepen African economic integration, to develop our economies and to lessen our reliance on imports from outside Africa.
South Africa pledges to continue to work closely with Namibia as current chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation to promote regional peace and stability.
Please be assured of our full support during your tenure, including with respect to regional anti-terrorism initiatives in northern Mozambique.
As we strive for peace and stability in our region, we must continue to support the struggle for self-determination and freedom of the Saharawi people.
The declaration and commitments of the SADC Solidarity Conference with Western Sahara, co-hosted by South Africa and Namibia in March 2019, should be fully implemented.
Similarly, all United Nations and African Union resolutions and decisions should be enforced.
We must continue to mobilise regional, continental and international support for a sustainable resolution to the Western Sahara issue, and push for the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front to resume dialogue without preconditions.
At the same time, we should reaffirm our support for the Palestinian cause and for the two-state solution.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has exposed the frailties of international systems of governance.
South Africa, like Namibia, maintains that the United Nations and the office of the Secretary-General should play an active role in resolving this conflict.
We also agree that the UN in its current configuration needs to be more responsive to the needs and aspirations of the majority of the world’s people.
We must step up our efforts to change the design of multilateral systems of governance.
One of the most pressing issues facing our respective countries and our region is climate change.
Like Namibia, South Africa is a water-scare country and is thus particularly vulnerable to climate change and its effects on food security, energy generation, and many other sectors.
We need to work together in pursuit of low-carbon, inclusive, climate resilient development, which is critical to the sustainability of our continent.
I look forward to our deliberations on these and other important matters of mutual interest.
I thank you again for honouring our invitation and warmly welcome you and your delegation to South Africa.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency