South African President Jacob Zuma and some senior members of his cabinet arrive today in Windhoek on an official visit for some important inter-government business which will further cement the ties between South Africa and Namibia, in what is viewed as an ever expanding international cross-border relationship.
WINDHOEK – The inauguration of the Bi-National Commission between Namibia and South Africa will be the highlight of the state visit of South African President Jacob Zuma, who arrives today in Windhoek.
The inauguration of the Bi-National Commission tomorrow is regarded as a milestone in the diplomatic relationship between the two countries as the commission transforms the existing Heads of State Economic Bilateral Forum (HOSEB) into a fully fledged Bi-National Commission, thus making Namibia one of the few countries with which South Africa has this arrangement, says the South African government.
“The burgeoning relationship with Namibia will now be managed and consolidated through the commission and will provide the required momentum to the implementation of all signed agreements and memoranda of understanding,” the South African Government News Agency said yesterday.
Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, the Namibian Minister of Foreign Affairs, yesterday described the visit as underlining the strong cooperation between Namibia and South Africa. “It will provide opportunities to identify economic and development issues for both countries. We are ready to host our delegates,” Nandi-Ndaitwah told New Era.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said the Bi-National Commission will meet annually, alternating between Pretoria and Windhoek, and will deal with economic matters, defence and security, and social and diplomatic sub- commissions to be chaired by ministers of both countries dealing with related committees.
In November last year the then Namibian foreign affairs minister Utoni Nujoma signed an agreement for the establishment of the commission with South African Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Mashabane-Nkoane in South Africa.
According to the official government figures, Namibia is one of the eight leading tourist markets for South Africa in the SADC region, with more than 200 000 tourists visiting each year. Further, in 2012 about 25.9 percent of SADC tourists to South Africa on business were Namibians. About 66 percent of Namibian exports ends up in South Africa and South Africa has significant investments in mining, retail, banking and insurance, estimated at about 80 percent of total investments in those sectors.
Accompanying President Zuma are the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of Energy, Benedict Martins, Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Rob Davies, Minister of Science and Technology Derek Hanekom, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa and Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
President Zuma is expected to arrive at Hosea Kutako International Airport this afternoon. Zuma is also expected to address a joint session of parliament at 15h00 tomorrow before departing for South Africa.
• Additional reporting by SAnews.gov.za
By Albertina Nakale