Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Nomalungelo Gina addressing the gathering. Photo: Supplied

PRETORIA - South Africa was an African country and the freedom it enjoyed could not have been achieved without the support of the people of Botswana and all African countries, Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Nomalungelo Gina said on Sunday.

Addressing a Botswana National Day celebration in Pretoria, Gina congratulated Botswana on its 58th anniversary of independence.

On September 30, 1966, Bechuanaland declared its independence, and became the Republic of Botswana.

Gina said the recent attacks on foreign nationals and South Africans were a serious cause for concern to everyone. President Cyril Ramaphosa had unequivocally condemned these acts of violence. She took the opportunity to issue a further condemnation and to commend the law enforcement agencies for their sterling response and continued work in this regard.

“South Africa is an African country and the freedom we enjoy today could not have been achieved without the support of the people of Botswana and all African countries. The people of Botswana constantly faced the wrath of the apartheid regime by housing and supporting our liberation struggle cadres,” said Gina.

"In order for us as Africans to understand and appreciate the vision of a united and prosperous Africa, our two countries cooperate in many areas that increase the economic well-being of our people.

"To date, South Africa and Botswana have signed 36 memoranda of understanding and agreements. These agreements cover a broad spectrum of areas, including transport, trade and investment, health, education, environmental issues, water, science and technology, agriculture, justice, immigration, energy, finance, culture, security, sport among others. This is indeed a reflection of the commitment that our two governments share in building a better life for our people. I believe that as long as we share a common vision of the future, we will continue to support citizens of our countries as they work to build a better future,” Gina said.

Regarding economic ties between the two countries, Gina acknowledged Botswana’s continued significance as one of South Africa’s major trading partners in the region. She said there was a large presence of South African companies in Botswana who were involved in various sectors, such as housing, food and beverages, construction, retail, hotels and leisure, banking, and medical services.

South African companies would continue to contribute to the growth and development of the Botswana economy as well as skills transfer.

“There is strong commitment on both sides to advance the agenda of the African continent globally, through dialogue and coordination of positions. South Africa and Botswana as members of Southern African Development Community work together in the continent to find amicable solutions to the political and security challenges in the region and put emphasis on the importance of economic and social integration of the African continent,” Gina said.

African News Agency