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SA, Namibia sign cooperation pact

Nov 06 2012 17:45 Sapa

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Cape Town - South Africa and Namibia signed three cooperation agreements on Tuesday during a state visit by Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba.

Pohamba held talks with President Jacob Zuma, who said delegations from the neighbouring states had reviewed progress made in bilateral cooperation.

"We paid particular focus on key areas such as trade and investment, energy, transport, environment, science and technology, education, tourism, and security issues."

He said every effort would be made to ensure the three agreements were put into effect.

In a sometimes emotional address to the National Assembly, Pohamba stressed the importance of greater ties between the two neighbouring states given the "weight of the common history our people shared" in the apartheid era, when Namibia was a South African colony until 1990.

He said both the South African and Namibian governments must spare no effort to complete the liberation process by building equitable societies, free of oppression.

"Today our two countries are free and democratic. We are working together to build a common future as neighbours, and as members of Sacu [the Southern African Customs Union], Sadc [the Southern African Development Community], the African Union indeed and the global community of free nations."

Pohamba said South Africa and Namibia had common cause in lobbying for the reform of the United Nations, which he described as undemocratic, and negotiating an end to conflicts in Africa.

He condemned "unconstitutional changes of government" on the continent and called for greater peace initiatives in Somalia, the eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, and Guinea Bissau.

In an aside from his prepared speech, Pohamba said as a founding member of the South West African People's Organisation he had firmly believed that he would never see either Namibian independence or the fall of apartheid.

"I thought the children of my children will be the ones who got independence," he said, adding that standing in Tuynhuys had moved him to tears.

Earlier on Tuesday, the South African and Namibian foreign ministers signed an agreement to establish a bi-national commission. It would meet every year, alternating between Pretoria and Windhoek. Four sub-commissions  - diplomatic, economic, social, and defence and security - would be established.

The countries' public works ministries signed a memorandum of understanding. This would provide for cooperation in areas such as infrastructure development, and exchange programmes in building and engineering.

A similar pact on cooperation in meteorology was also finalised. According to a document handed out at the briefing, the SA Weather Service had already been providing Namibia with technical support and training in this field.

Pohamba described talks with Zuma and his delegation as fruitful.

"The two delegations reviewed and exchanged views on regional and international issues, especially of regional economic integration within the framework of the Southern African Development Community and the African Union," he said. 
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