Monday, July 5, 2010

H.H. the Vice President Lt. Gen. Mompati Merafhe on the Occasion of the Meeting with H.H. Shri Mohammad Hamid Ansari

source: Republic of Botswana (29/6/10) TAUTONA TIMES no 9 of 2010
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity, Discipline and Delivery"


1. Your Honour, I would like, on behalf of my delegation to express my profound gratitude for the warm welcome and hospitality that you and your Government have accorded us since our arrival in India.

2. With your permission your Honour, let me introduce the members of my delegation to you Sir: Honourable Oreeditse Molebatsi, the Assistant Minister of Agriculture; Mrs. Dorcas Kgosietsile, our High Commissioner to India; Mr. Newman Kahiya, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Dr. John Mothibi, the Permanent Secretary in my office.

3. Your Honour, also accompanying me are the representatives of the Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA), the Botswana International Financial Services Centre (IFSC), the Botswana Tourism Organization (BOTORG), and the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) whose presence in India would catalyse a robust and meaningful interaction with the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) during the business meeting scheduled for later today.

4. I fully agree with you, Your Honour, that the fruitful and beneficial relations existing between our two countries, which date back to over four decades now, have grown from strength to strength. There is indeed no doubt that these relations are built on a solid foundation of genuine friendship, mutual respect, and a commonality of interest aimed at improving the living standard of our peoples.

5. Your Honour, as you may already be aware; Botswana was at the time of independence, in September 1966, classified as one of the poorest nations in the world. Per capita income was estimated at around US$70 to US$90 and most families depended on subsistence agriculture. We had weak Government structures and that is why some people thought ‘we were either very brave or too foolish to seek self-government and independence under these circumstances.’ We, nevertheless, persevered. Over the years, the country’s Gross Domestic Product grew at an average of 8.7 percent. Economic development was driven largely by mineral revenues. Unfortunately, the infamous global economic crisis has had a negative impact on the economic growth, particularly the mining sector. This resulted in a high number of job losses.

6. Your Honour, the recession has compelled us to accelerate economic diversification, which we hope to achieve through an ambitious National Development Plan (NDP 10). I am optimistic that given your country’s impressive economic achievements, and with the strengthened political, economic and commercial ties between our two countries, we will certainly achieve this noble objective. I cannot agree with you more on the need to create a platform which will give impetus to the bilateral cooperation between our two countries. I am therefore, pleased to note that we will during the course of my visit here witness the signing of an Agreement establishing the Joint Ministerial Commission. This mechanism will indeed go a long way in ensuring that all the existing agreements between Botswana and India are fully implemented.

7. Your Honour, it is with a deep sense of gratitude that Botswana appreciates the development assistance that we continue to receive from the Government of India, which include the following:

• The provision of technical experts in a wide range of fields such as medical doctors, health personnel, architects, engineers, meteorologists and forensic pathologists,

• Human resource development. A number of scholarships have been offered in various disciplines such as medicine, law enforcement, information technology and computer science and poultry production,

• Annual Grant Aid of P6.7 million for rural development, particularly in the Education and Health sectors, and many more.

This invaluable support is even more critical in light of the waning development assistance from some of our development cooperating partners due to Botswana’s Middle-income country status.

8. Your Honour, I am aware that Botswana has not fully utilized some of the opportunities which your Government has been kind enough to offer us such as the USD 20 million line of credit and the P6.7 million grant aid. I nonetheless, remain hopeful that through continued dialogue on these generous offers, we will ultimately make headway. I am confident that with the continued support of friends such as India, Botswana will overcome the development challenges that the country currently faces such as unemployment, the need to diversify the economy, poverty eradication, just to mention a few.

9. Your Honour, one of my country’s top priority areas is the development of human resources, particularly in the technical fields which are very critical to the country. We would therefore greatly appreciate your Government’s urgent assistance in providing Vocational and Technical Education Lecturers. I am informed that this request has already been submitted to your Government through diplomatic channels.

10. On the regional front, I note with satisfaction the close collaboration between Botswana and India through the India - Southern African Development Community (SADC) Forum. This collaboration has indeed served to reaffirm the close historical ties between India and the Southern Africa Region. Cooperation between your country and the region in areas such as Small and Medium Enterprises, Trade and Investment, Human Resources Development, Pharmaceuticals, and Information and Communication Technology, is a clear demonstration of the existing genuine partnership and solidarity. One can only urge that the commitments that have been made, in this regard, are fully implemented.

11. Let me to take this opportunity to commend your Government for forging a close collaboration with the African Continent under the auspices of the Indo-Africa Framework. The Plan of Action adopted by the Summit in 2008, symbolizes India’s unwavering commitment to the development needs of Africa. My Government is currently exploring different areas through which we could cooperate in this endeavour.

12. At the international level, I am pleased to note that our two countries enjoy fruitful cooperation in fora such as the United Nations, World Trade Organisation, The Commonwealth, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement. We have closely worked together to promote the shared values of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and the peaceful settlements of disputes.

13. In this regard, Botswana strongly believes in the proposed reforms of the United Nations Security Council which are aimed at making the Council more democratic. During your visit to Botswana early this year, I expressed my Government’s support to India’s candidature for a permanent membership in the Security Council. I wish to reiterate my Government’s position as we feel that the role that since India plays a key role in promoting the aspirations of humanity in order to realize an equitable global economic, political and social order, she truly deserves the seat.

Yield the floor to His Honour Shri Mohammad Hamid Ansari who is likely to seek Botswana’s support for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

14. Your Honour, Botswana regards India as a reliable partner and a friend. We therefore, wish to pledge our support to your country’s candidature for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council for the 2011-2012 term.

15. Let me once again thank you for inviting me to your beautiful country and for the opportunity to interact with you.

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