South Africa has said it will engage Rwanda about normalising relations with Rwanda after the two countries’ relations went sour over the presence of a Rwandan fugitive, Kayumba Nyamwasa, who sought refugee in the country.
He has allegedly been conducting subversive activities against Rwanda from its soil.
International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, said she had a conversation with Nyamwasa and Rwandan authorities about the matter.
She was speaking at a press conference in Pretoria this Monday.
However, Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Richard Sezibera told Taarifa that no discussions have taken place yet.
Kayumba Nyamwasa, a former General in the Rwandan Army, was in 2011 convicted and sentenced by court to 24 years of imprisonment in absentia.
Nyamwasa faces charges including war crimes, terrorism, genocide denial and crimes against humanity.
He had fled to South Africa where he also founded the Rwandan National Congress (RNC), a movement that has declared war against the government of Rwanda and allegedly involved in subversive activities including supporting a genocidal outfit, FDLR, in the DRC jungles.
Sisulu insisted that she did not think the inquest would upset the efforts by the two governments to normalise relations.
She disclosed that she had met Kayumba to discuss with him about South Africa’s plans to normalise relations with Kigali.
She said she had been “pleasantly surprised” to discover that he was ready himself to negotiate with the Rwandan government to try to resolve his issues with it.
Sisulu said that when she held a conversation with Kayumba, the two countries had not yet discussed Rwanda’s expected demand that South Africa should curb Kayumba’s political activities in South Africa as a condition for normalising relations.
But if Rwanda did raise that concern, South Africa would raise its own concerns, she said.
In 2014, diplomatic relations between the two countries turned sour – leading to the expulsion of diplomats from both Kigali and Pretoria.
South Africa expelled three Rwandan diplomats charging them of involvement in Kayumba Nyamwasa’s shooting.
Rwanda also reacted by dismissing six South African diplomats.
Since then, Rwandans were barred from getting visas to South Africa while South Africans go to Rwanda with ease.
Meanwhile, last week Randburg Chief Prosecutor, Yusuf Baba, announced that an inquest into the death of Col. Patrick Karegeya, who was also in S. Africa and actively engaged in running anti-Rwanda activities with the RNC, would begin on January 16, 2019 and that he would question over 30 witnesses to get to the bottom of his killing.
His killing deepened the already bitter relations between the two nations.
In March 2018, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa arrived in Rwanda to attend the historic Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He held bilateral talks with President Paul Kagame in Kigali.
Later on during the last panel of AfCFTA, Ramaphosa responded to a question raised by a Ugandan journalist, Andrew Mwenda, about South Africa’s denying visas to Rwandans.
“Consider Rwanda-South Africa visa issue, as a matter that is solved. We are working with President Kagame to put relations between Rwanda and South Africa on a much better footing,” President Ramaphosa said amidst applause from the audience.
“Amongst the issues we discussed, was that we must resolve the challenge of issuing of visa to people of Rwanda wanting to visit South Africa,” he added.
“At the moment I spoke to President Kagame, we agreed that we would build a better relationship with South Africa and Rwanda, and our problems that we have made, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), will soon be able to follow this issue.”
In a press meeting in Pretoria, Prime Minister Sisulu told journalists that the two heads of state demanded the ministers of Foreign Affairs for both countries to reinstate relations between the two countries.
Last week, Randburg City Chief Prosecutor Yusuf Baba, announced that an inquiry into the death of Patrick Karegeya, a former Rwandan army soldier and chief of intelligence, who was shot dead in South Africa, would start in January.
Sisulu said that all the issues could not undermine efforts that were invested in terms of restoring bilateral relations.
According to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), Minister Sisulu said: “Do I think the problem of the former general will make things worse? No, but it will make things clear between us and Rwanda, why we have been in the present situation and what we are doing so that they will never happen,” he said.
“I met with Rwandans led by General Nyamwasa, to tell them that we are going to negotiate with the government of Rwanda and we would like to hear their views as refugees in our country, we had to start by talking with them,” he added.
“And I was pleased with their response, saying they are happy to have the opportunity to negotiate with the government of Rwanda in order to resolve the issue on both sides,” he said.
Last month, it was reported that the Rwandan Prosecution was considering to issue arrest warrants against Nyamwasa in South Africa.