Zambia and Botswana will this year mark 50 years of formal diplomatic relations having formally established bilateral ties and cooperation in 1968.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s inaugural working visit to Zambia demonstrated the significance Botswana attached to consolidating bilateral relations between the two countries.
During his visit to Zambia last week, President Edgar Lungu requested Masisi to officiate at the 92nd Zambia Agricultural and Commercial Show in August.
Accepting the invite, Masisi said the occasion would be an opportunity to accelerate growth for local businesses in Zambia and Botswana. Also, noted Masisi, it would serve to deepen the existing bilateral relations in trade and investment between the two countries.
Of last week’s visit, Masisi said it was aimed at introducing himself and reassuring his counterpart that he will carry on from where his predecessor left and continue to cultivate and nurture the good bilateral relations between Zambia and Botswana.
This was echoed by the Charge D’ Affaires at the Zambia High Commission in Botswana, Goodwell Lungu, who noted that Masisi’s second visit to Zambia would provide a platform to further strengthen and grow the economic interests of the two nations.
Lungu said trade relations between the two nations have continued to register positive growth and the visit by President Masisi to grace the Agricultural show will further cement ties between the two neighbours.
He further said the bilateral construction of the mega Kazungula Bridge Project would enhance trade and investment between the two countries. The two leaders discussed
“I am here to recommit to our friendship and bilateral ties, express the allegiance of Botswana as a first neighbour and reconfirm our resolve to continue to fruition the projects that we have started. Besides being neighbours, this initial visit is really a courtesy call to come and express our solidarity with my brother President Lungu,” Masisi said.
He added, “Zambia is very special to Botswana. You may recall that at the time of our independence, which is two years after your own independence, we looked up to Zambia for a fresh breath air”.
He recalled that Zambia stood with Botswana during the time of hostility and aggression of supremacists of the white colonialists in the region.
Amongst the major modern projects between Zambia and Botswana is the US$259 million Kazungula Bridge project, which the Botswana leader pledged to ensure it succeeded.
President Lungu congratulated Masisi on his ascendancy to Botswana’s highest office and assured him of Zambia’s support. “Welcome to the club. We look forward to strengthening our cooperation. Having been Vice-President, we believe you are fitting in well in those shoes,” he said.
President Lungu further submitted that Zambia expects support from Botswana as it takes over the Chairpersonship of the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Troika Organ on politics, defence and security in August this year.