Rwanda, South Africa ties on the mend, Biruta says

Rwandans will have to wait a little longer before they can access visas to South Africa with the Government promising that outstanding issues are being addressed.

During Wednesday’s news conference, Foreign Affairs minister Dr Vincent Biruta said that relations between the two nations were in the process of resuming normalcy and visa issues would be addressed in due time.

He added that South Africa has already designated a new envoy to Kigali. 

Since 2014, Rwandans have not been able to travel to South Africa due to the country’s visa policy on Rwanda.

This has seen students and members of business community miss out on opportunities do study and trade respectively.

In March 2018, there was a sense of optimism when South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in Kigali that the issue of visa restrictions against Rwandans traveling to his country should be “considered solved.”

Meanwhile, Biruta welcomed the new South African law that bars refugees from engaging in political activities in their territory, noting that it will serve to curb Anti-Rwanda terror groups who have been operating from the country.

CHOGM preparations

In the meantime, the minister, who is also the Government Spokesperson, said that with about six months to the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, in June, preparatory works were well underway under the supervision of various committees.

He said that the coming months would see the execution of final preparatory tasks in aspects such as infrastructure, accommodation, protocol and logistics among others.

Biruta added that Rwanda was also in preparations in other ways such as participation at the summit to make impactful contributions to discussions as it will have impact on the future in multiple aspects.

The meeting will tackle issues across five sub-themes: Governance and Rule of Law, ICT and Innovation, Youth, Environment, and Trade.

Biruta said that the summit is expected to have a huge impact on the country’s economy and involve a number of sectors, including hospitality, logistics among others.

During the news conference, Biruta said that the next East African Community Heads of Summit will be held in the first quarter of this year when Rwanda hands over chairmanship to Kenya.

He recalled that the Summit was postponed last year at the request of a member of the Summit, not because of issues or misunderstanding between partner states.

cmwai@newtimesrwanda.com

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