By Neo Kolane
Lesotho and South African today wind up the three-day Joint Bilateral Commission for Cooperation (JBCC) ministerial meeting in Maseru, which is meant to redefine and strengthen the cooperation between the two countries.
The Joint Bilateral Commission of Cooperation (JBCC) agreement is the agreed framework for cooperation between Lesotho and South Africa, it is renewable after every five years.
The Agreement commits the two countries to a Strategic Partnership. Its key objective is to promote economic integration between the two States, with the aim of uplifting Lesotho from her current status of Least Developed Country to that of a developing country.
Speaking at the meeting, the principal secretary for foreign affairs and international relations, Tanki Mothae said much work has already been done in their previous meetings, particularly the recent meeting they had at the beginning of the month in Pretoria.
“I only wish to reiterate some few issues that I pointed out in Pretoria, those being the cross-border movement of persons, goods and services which is very urgent for our people, including the transportation of students to various schools in the Republic of South Africa.
“Security cooperation is very critical to combat and tackle common security concerns and threats effectively and timely. The harmonization of health efforts to contain Covid-19 pandemic and to attend to other chronic disease timely is so salient to save the lives of the people.
“Striking a balance between economic recovery strategies and fighting Covid-19 pandemic is very critical at this moment to in order to save the jobs of our people and reduce poverty among our communities. We have witnessed so much closure of firms and companies, and consequently, increase the already high unemployment rate in our countries. This issue need an urgent attention to mitigate its impact in our communities,” Mothae said.
At the same occasion, South Africa’s deputy director general of the department of international relations and cooperation, Ndumiso N Ntshinga, said the ministerial meeting is a culmination of hard work and recommended actions to political principals.
“I am pleased to announce that the Republic of South Africa has commenced with the processes to finalize the Agreement which will elevate the JBCC to the level of the Heads of State and Government and as we are all aware, the meeting of the Council of the Ministers will be held on Friday as per the outcomes of Senior Officials Meeting to prepare for Summit of the Heads of State on an agreed date next year,” Ntshinga said.
Ntshinga indicated that they need to pay special attention to clusters which lucked sufficient representation in Pretoria while enhancing the work already completed by other clusters.
“Allow me to reiterate South Africa’s commitment to working with the people of Lesotho to brave the challenges meted amongst others, by grim socio-economic factors and to reiterate that it is only through working together and mutual support that we can turn the table,” Ntshinga added.
The two countries’ ministers of foreign affairs and international relations are expected to address the meeting later today.