South African delegation visits Rwanda as both countries seek to normalize relations

On 6 July 2021 at 05:25

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MINAFFET) yesterday received a delegation South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) who came to Rwanda for a working visit.

The delegation comes to Rwanda after the visit of Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Vincent Biruta to South Africa early June 2021 where he chatted ways to normalize both countries’ relations with his counterpart, Dr. Naledi Pandor.

“Following Minister Vincent Biruta’s visit to Pretoria last month where he met with his counterpart, a delegation from DIRCO is in Kigali for a working visit. This is another signal that both sides are determined to strengthen bilateral relations,” MINAFFET has tweeted.

Rwanda and South Africa have been hit by diplomatic tensions where Rwanda accused South Africa to grant refuge to fugitives intending to threaten Rwanda’s security like Kayumba Nyamwasa who escaped justice and currently heading RNC terror outfit.

In March 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the problem of Rwandans being denied visas to South Africa would soon become history after holding talks with President Paul Kagame. However, up to now, Rwandans still struggle to get visa to travel to South Africa.

Rwanda has at different times explained that actions of convicted people or fugitives should not blur bilateral relations.

During discussions with Dr. Biruta who was on working visit in South Africa early June 2021, both ministers committed to restore bilateral relations to normal following discussions between President Paul Kagame and Cyril Ramaphosa held at different times.

The joint statement released following both ministers discussions reads that the two ministers met to assess the current state of bilateral relations and iron out challenges.

They recalled good bilateral relations that existed between the two countries prior to events that led to the straining of relations in 2013 and reiterated commitment to bring the situation to normalcy.

“In open and frank discussions, both ministers confirmed their determination and commitment to normalize diplomatic relations as expressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa and President Paul Kagame, following bilateral meetings,” reads the statement in part.

The ministers agreed that full cooperation between the two countries in a number of areas and sectors will support increased socio-economic development.

It was agreed that mutual actors and measures would be taken to direct bilateral relations along a new path for the benefit of the Government and people of South Africa and Rwanda.

The ministers agreed on a roadmap that will support the normalization process, predicated on agreed timelines whereby both countries must value and respect international laws and regulations that govern relations between countries including territorial integrity and international sovereignty.

Among others, the meeting agreed on the establishment of a Joint Mechanism led by minister Pando and Biruta, to guide and manage the normalization process.

It is expected that senior officials from both countries will serve as the Technical Committee of the Mechanism. The latter will be required to engage the entire spectrum of issues affecting bilateral relations and report to ministers.

Minister Biruta (in the middle) with visiting South African delegation.