President Cyril Ramaphosa and Lesotho Prime Minister Sam Matekane co-chaired the inaugural session of the South Africa-Lesotho Bi-National Commission in Pretoria on Thursday.
Ramaphosa said the elevation of the Joint Bilateral Commission of Cooperation between South Africa and Lesotho to a Bi-National Commission is a testament to the unwavering commitment by our two countries to further bolster our relations for mutual benefit.
He said South Africa attaches great importance to its bilateral relations and cooperation with the Kingdom of Lesotho, and that the two countries’ relationship is anchored in historic bonds of language, culture and heritage.
Ramaphosa welcomed Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project as a vital development to enhance water security in the Gauteng province and other parts of South Africa. He said the project also contributes to job creation in Lesotho and the construction of new roads, bringing access to previously inaccessible areas of the country.
He said South Africa is keen to work with the Kingdom of Lesotho on the four proposed renewable energy projects, and that in the face of the worsening effects of climate change, the two countries need to be making significant investments to ensure water and energy security for their peoples into the future.
Ramaphosa welcomed the commitment of the government of Lesotho to cooperate with South Africa to deal with challenges of illegal mining in the two countries. He said such activity carries a great social and economic cost for both countries.
He also welcomed the commitment made by Prime Minister Matekane to prioritise the implementation and completion of the comprehensive National Reforms Process in Lesotho, and commended the government and people of the Kingdom of Lesotho for finalising the Action Plan to monitor the completion of the reforms process.
Ramaphosa said South Africa will continue to support the SADC Panel of Elders and Mediation Reference Group initiative in assisting Basotho to complete the National Reform Process.
Prime Minister Matekane said the inaugural session of the Bi-National Commission is a milestone in the relations between the two countries, and that it will provide a platform to strengthen bilateral cooperation in all areas.
He said Lesotho is grateful for South Africa’s support for the country’s development agenda, and that he is committed to working with President Ramaphosa to further deepen the relationship between the two countries.
The Bi-National Commission will meet annually to discuss and review progress on bilateral cooperation in a range of areas, including trade, investment, infrastructure development, water and energy security, security and defence, and social development.