South African President arrives in Rwanda for AU summit as relations between two countries normalise
South African President Jacob Zuma this afternoon arrived in Rwanda’s capital Kigali to attend the 27th African Union Summit.
Zuma’s travel to Rwanda shades light on the two countries relations that had gone sour since 2010.
In May last year, South Africa expelled three Rwandan diplomats. Rwanda was reciprocal and sent packing six South African diplomats from Kigali.
Since then, the two countries have been normalizing relations. In a press conference with journalists last month, Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Mushikiwabo stated that the two countries have been working on restoring relations.
“Normalization of relations between Rwanda and South Africa has been implemented over the last two years. So there is no question as to the decision by both countries to move forward and to move beyond some of the tensions that had been there since actually 2010,” Mushikiwabo said.
Zuma’s coming to Rwanda is a big step ahead. But for Minister Mushikiwabo, normalization is a process and includes a number of things. During the conference, she highlighted some of the activities currently in place as part of normalising relations.
For instance, she said, “You can see that a number of commercial activities between countries are ongoing. There are many trade and investments-many South African Companies are operating here in Rwanda, RwandAir flying to Johannesburg daily and South African officials coming to Rwanda for official business.”
Last month, South African Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, led a delegation of diplomats to attended World Economic Forum on Africa. While in the country, he insisted that the two countries remain ‘good friends’ irrespective of political issues that disrupted their relations.
Having enjoyed a cordial reception in Rwanda during the World Economic Forum on Africa, Deputy President Ramaphosa told journalists: “Friendship between Rwanda and SA will deepen. President Kagame welcomed us with open arms….”
He assured that both countries have started a new chapter of relations.
“South Africa and Rwanda are determined to work together, and we enjoy cordial relations with the Rwandan government.”
President Jacob Zuma will spend three days in the country from 15-18 July 2016.
He is accompanied by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane; the Minister of State for Security, David Mahlobo; and the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.