The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, has said that bilateral relations between Kigali and Pretoria are “unquestionably normalising”.
She told journalists, on Tuesday in Kigali, that despite some of the bilateral aspects taking longer to be reinstated, there was no question that both countries had moved forward and beyond some of the tension that had been there since 2010.
“The normalisation of relations between Rwanda and South Africa has been implemented over the last year and a half or 2 years. There is no question as to the decisions by both countries to move forward and beyond some of the tension that had been there since 2010,” said Mushikiwabo.
Rwanda and South Africa, have since 2010, been embroiled in a diplomatic row sparked by Rwandan fugitives using South Africa as their base for subversive operations.
The ‘bilateral frost’ escalated in 2014, leading to the expulsion of diplomats from both Rwanda and South Africa.
However, Mushikiwabo says that, the two countries have since decided to normalise relations, including fostering intra-trade and diplomatic ties.
“Normalisation is a process, and it includes a number of things. You can see that a number of commercial activities between the two countries are ongoing,” the Minister said.
“Many South African companies operating in Rwanda, RwandAir flying to Johannesburg daily, South African officials coming to Rwanda for business, including a very large delegation which attended the World Economic Forum led by the Vice president of South Africa”.
During his visit to Kigali, in May, South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said his country and Rwanda’s bilateral relations can “only deepen” further after the two countries’ recent row strained ties.
Leading “Team South Africa,” a high-level government and business delegation to the annual WEF Africa, Ramaphosa, said: “Our mere presence here in Kigali, means that South Africa and Rwanda are embracing the African notion of working together to achieve our 2063 objective as a continent”.
However, Mushikiwabo noted that, as much as Rwanda had been quick to work on the normalization actions agreed upon by the two parties, much was still expected from South Africa.
“We are normalising, but some other things need to happen. For example, on our side, we are waiting on the promised reinstatement of visa facilities for ordinary Rwandans.
We, the officials travel very easily to South Africa, but we want ordinary Rwandans to have the same kind of access. So these are some of the things that we keep discussing both ways,” she said.
Mushikiwabo added that, in a bid to reinstate normal diplomatic business between countries, Rwanda was working on re-appointing diplomats to South Africa.
“We are in the process of selecting and deciding what diplomats should be serving our mission in South Africa. Our Ambassador has been in South Africa. It’s only the junior and mid-level diplomats that need to be appointed,” she said.