Rwanda Should Review her Relations with South Africa

As a keen follower of the politics in Rwanda, I find it hard to understand her diplomatic stance towards the South African Government. Recently, the South African Government recalled its Ambassador in Kigali citing some security issues between the two countries.

As a keen follower of the politics in Rwanda, I find it hard to understand her diplomatic stance towards the South African Government. Recently, the South African Government recalled its Ambassador in Kigali citing some security issues between the two countries.

One would have expected the Government of Rwanda to have been the one to recall her Ambassador in Pretoria much earlier in protest over South Africa’s handling of the two Rwandan fugitives, Kayumba Nyamwasa and Patrick Karegeya. But South Africa goes on to behave like the proverbial lion which eats one’s cow and gets ‘angrier’ than the owner!

While the two fugitives are wanted by their government to answer serious criminal charges, there has been no response from South Africa to Rwanda‘s official request to have the fugitives extradited. Instead, the fugitives continue to enjoy special protection and VIP treatment by the South African Government.

Secondly, it is an open secret that the fugitives have unrestricted movements within the country and beyond within the region on clandestine missions aimed at destabilizing the country.

For example, it has been said that Karegeya has been frequenting the border area with Rwanda through Uganda and this has raised some suspicions regarding his intentions.

In addition, the two fugitives have been on the air waves and in print media on a smear campaign against the leadership and government of Rwanda. While this smear is self defeating, one is dumbfounded by the casual and confident manner in which these Rwandan fugitives make political statements, openly attacking the government of Rwanda on the South African soil and in full view of their hosts.

More outrageous, the fugitives have of recent publicly declared war against the Government of Rwanda and called upon Rwandans to bring down the democratically elected Government through violent means.

As if this is not bad enough, they have shamelessly and openly expressed their readiness to work with FDLR, a Rwandan terrorist armed group which has blood of Tutsis dripping on its hands. While to call up Rwandans to go to war against their elected leadership is an illusion, as evidenced by the recent people’s voice, as they overwhelmingly voted President Kagame back to office, it is a shame that South African authorities can turn a blind eye to this most foul behavior.

With this state of affairs, one would have logically expected the Government of South Africa to deny these fugitives asylum and to repatriate them to Rwanda.

The South African government has obligation under international law to restrict the activities of the fugitives as they are prohibited by international law from engaging in political activities aimed at subverting their home governments.

Yet, as aforementioned, the Rwandan fugitives in South Africa have clearly been facilitated to engage in activities prejudicial to the security of Rwanda contrary to the provisions of the law of asylum.

States consciously pursue their own interests – no one can argue against this. Therefore, it is clear that the South African authorities have made a conscious choice to support dissident fugitives at the expense of the otherwise good relations between two countries. One wonders if the two fugitives are worth more to South Africa than Rwanda!
The government of Rwanda has categorically denied her involvement in the recent shooting at Kayumba Nyamwasa. And yet it can also be argued that people such as Kayumba and Karegyeya are legitimate targets given their criminal actions, intentions and utterances.

Some people have advanced arguments that the current relations between Rwanda and South Africa can be explained by the actions of some influential individuals in the South African Government acting in self interest.

Others though, see it as a result of hegemonic stance by South Africa. Whatever the explanation, this attitude is wrong and South Africa has no right, nor reason to allow dissidents to undermine the sovereignty of Rwanda.

What Rwanda should value as has always been emphasized by President Kagame is engaging in diplomatic relations that is based on the principles of equality, reciprocity, mutual interests and mutual respect and dignity.

As things stand now, the South African Government has preferred to cooperate with individual fugitives at the expense of the Government of Rwanda. The government of Rwanda therefore needs to review her relations with South Africa.

The author is barrister in the United Kingdom

 

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