Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness Dikgang Makgalemele also called for the strengthening of trade relations between the two countries.

Makgalemele was addressing the public, businessmen and organisations in Cape Town on Thursday.

The event was hosted by CapeForum, an organisation chaired by embattled ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman, who said the aim of the engagement was to open dialogue with neighbouring countries to strategise on ways to build relationships.

Makgalemele, speaking as an MP for a rural district of Shoshong, described his country’s outlook in attracting foreign investment and how they made do with limited resources.

With a population of just two million people, Makgalemele said the country expected an overall economic growth rate of 3.5 percent for 2016 and 4.1 for this year.

He said high on his government’s priorities is eradicating poverty among the people of Botswana. Six years ago, the national poverty figure stood at 30.6 percent and was reduced to 19.3 percent by last year, while abject poverty was reduced from 24.5 percent to 6.4 percent.

He said being a landlocked country, their economy was largely dependent on mining, agriculture and tourism. Their strategy was speeding up industrialisation processes in the country through the exporting of goods.

Makgalemele said they also imported many products and encouraged those in attendance to look into ways of venturing into those business models.

Asked what the South African government could learn from Botswana, Makgalemele said government officials could live more modestly.

“South Africa’s economy is complex and diverse and is a huge economy, and in Botswana we don’t have a large population so it is hard to compare,” he said.

“One of the things we did as a country was (encourage) modesty, whereby most of our leaders have done their best in terms of leading a modest life and bringing the cost of running the economy quite low.

“For example, there was a time I travelled to Johannesburg and when I travelled back I asked a friend to drive with me and at the border I asked this one lady to drive him back.

“I showed her my diplomatic passport, and she said ‘I don’t think you can be a minister when you don’t have security’.

“She refused to give this guy a lift back because she did not believe I was a minister because ministers in South Africa have to have one or two bodyguards.

“But the other thing is that we also have low levels of corruption (in Botswana) – we still have corruption, but it has been proven that it is low.”

The Star