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Will Rwanda-South Africa Relations Normalise?

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South Africa and Rwanda are once again working on mending fences and taking their cooperation to a cordial level.

The Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Vincent Biruta said on Thursday that he received at his office the High Commissioner-Designate Mandisi Bongani Mabuto Mpahlwa of the Republic of South Africa to Rwanda, for the presentation of copies of his credential letters.

“This was an occasion to discuss ways to further strengthen Rwanda-South Africa bilateral relations,” the Minister said without divulging more details.

Rwanda and South Africa have had a tense diplomatic past over disagreement on a range of issues.

For example, the South African embassy in Kigali has been unable to issue visas to Rwandans despite both countries reappointing envoys.

“We don’t deny South Africans visas to travel to our country, but the reverse to South Africa is not the same,” President Paul Kagame said in previous engagements.

When the South African government appointed Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor as Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, there was a feeling that the diplomatic impasse would be sorted quickly.

Rwanda has concerns about South Africa hosting the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) led by renegade Kayumba Nyamwasa – a terrorist group that has an objective of overthrowing government in Kigali.

During an Extraordinary Summit of the African Union in Kigali in 2018, President Kagame and his South African counterpart President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered Foreign Affairs Ministers to work on normalization of relations between the two countries.

Rwanda is concerned about South Africa accepting distortions propagated by Rwandan detractors based in South Africa, and media platforms associated with them.

Towards the end of Pandor’s tenure while serving as Home Affairs Minister in 2014, it is when much of the relations between the two countries collapsed based on recommendations from her ministry, leading to the expulsion of several Rwandan diplomats by Pretoria.

Rwanda-South Africa Relations, Hot Potato For Dr. Pandor

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