The economies of South Africa and Botswana have benefitted tremendously from the bilateral relations that the two countries have cemented over the years, South African High Commissioner, Mdu Lembede said in an interview last week.
Lembede said South African businesses have invested extensively in Botswana and both countries have experienced significant flow of trade between their economies ever since the dawn of democracy in 1994, which was followed by establishment of formal diplomatic relations between.
“Even before the dawn of the new democracy, South African businesses played an important role in the economy of Botswana. A case in point is De Beers, which drove the development of Botswana’s diamond industry from its infancy in 1967 to a world leader in the sector that Botswana has become today,” said Lembede.
The primary task of the South African High Commission in Gaborone is to manage the bilateral relations between Botswana and South Africa. Lembede said over the years the two countries have kept their historic relations more than cordial.
“Though at times we do experience problems we try very hard to ensure smooth movement of people and goods across the borders of our two countries. We also remain at the forefront in facilitating people to people relations,” he said.
Bilateral relations between Botswana and South Africa are conducted through a mechanism known as the Bi-National Commission (BNC), which was established in 2010 in order to streamline and co-ordinate relations at the highest possible level.
“The High Commission has a responsibility to ensure that the wheels that drive these relations are properly oiled. I believe we have done a good job thus far,” said Lembede.
South Africa remains one of Botswana’s major trading partners, with more than 70 percent of Botswana’s commodities imported from South Africa. There is also a large presence of South African companies in Botswana which are involved in various sectors such as housing, food and beverages, construction, retail, hotels and leisure, banking, medical services and many others.
“These companies continue to contribute to the growth and developments of the Botswana economy,” said Lembede.