South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has said his country and Rwanda’s bilateral relations can “only deepen” further after the two countries’ recent row strained ties.
Ramaphosa made the remarks during a media conference in Kigali where he has been attending the World Economic Forum on Africa, which ended yesterday. Ramaphosa arrived in Kigali on Wednesday, leading “Team South Africa,” a high-level government and business delegation to the annual WEF Africa.
At the media briefing, the deputy president was accompanied by South Africa’s minister for justice and constitutional development Jeff Radebe, George Twala, the South African envoy to Rwanda, among others.
Rwanda and South Africa were embroiled in a diplomatic row sparked by Rwandan fugitives using South Africa as their base for subversive operations.
However, Ramaphosa said the two countries have since forged ways to end diplomatic row, and have instead embarked on a journey to foster political and economic ties—which will consequently lead to the transformation of respective countries.
“Our mere presence here in Kigali—where we are participating at the very high level of government, accompanied by a sizable delegation of both public and private owned enterprises, plus non-profit organisations which make up Team South Africa—means that South Africa and Rwanda are embracing the African notion of working together to achieve our 2063 objective as a continent,” Ramaphosa said.
He added that Rwanda and South African have a number of projects, which they might work on together, to boost their economies, hence discussions are on-going to see how best each party can benefit from one another.
“We can only learn from friends, and that is why the friendship between South Africa and Rwanda is going to keep deepening, as it continues to become beneficial relationship for us all.
“We are here and we want to deepen the relationship between South Africa and Rwanda. May I add that, we, as South Africans, have found that much as we are a larger economy on the African continent, there is a lot that we are learning from what Rwanda is doing,” Rwamaphosa said.
“I was very quick to tell President Paul Kagame that what Rwanda has done in the field of ICT, by connecting the whole country with fibre optic cable and free internet, is something we aspire to be and we really want to learn from them and on how they have turned Kigali into an innovation centre.”
There have been reports regarding “bureaucratic visa applications” inconveniences for Rwandans, seeking to travel to South Africa. Ramaphosa said that, the two governments, “continue to have discussions” that seek to address the issues cited among other challenges that might hinder bilateral relations between the two countries.
“This matter of Visas is part of ingredients we are talking about in order to enhance integration on the continent, so that there must be easy movement of people and businesses on the continent and specifically between Rwanda and South African.
“South Africa and Rwanda are determined to work together, to be in cooperation and collaboration on a number of fronts, right from the top of the government to the bottom – wherever that bottom might be. We enjoy really wonderful cordial relations with the leadership of this country lead by President Paul Kagame and we continue to have discussions, which will continue, on a number of issues we have to address.” Ramaphosa added.