Rwanda and South Africa enjoy ‘positive bilateral ties’ as demonstrated by President Paul Kagame’s visit to the Southern African nation, Rwanda’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Vincent Karega has said.
In an email interview with The New Times, Karega, said the ‘small diplomatic incidents’ that manifested in the countries’ relations in the recent past had not affected the bilateral ties.
“The visit of President Kagame to South Africa is proof that the countries enjoy positive bilateral ties”.
President Kagame was among the African leaders who attended the centenary celebrations for South Africa’s ruling party African National Congress (ANC).
Karega added that the presence of President Kagame at the celebrations did not only reflect the good diplomatic ties between the two countries but also thrilled Rwandans living there.
“He (Kagame) responded to the invitation as a sign of support and solidarity to ANC as a liberation movement with great meaning for the people of South Africa and Africa as a whole,” Karega said.
The envoy noted that, since 1994 South Africa has had close relations with Rwanda, particularly in the areas of peace and reconciliation, the African agenda, Great Lakes initiatives, health, education, telecommunication, civil service reform and aviation.
“We have strong ties and mutual respect for our common features as liberation movements, ANC and RPF, with similar Vision and challenges of reconciliation and broadening the economies and restoring the African dignity”.
“The small diplomatic incidents have not hampered the big picture since both countries are able and determined to resolve the outstanding matters and continue to take to greater heights their long-dated and constructive relations,” Karega added.
ANC, Africa’s oldest political movement, led the fight against white segregationist rule, securing it the loyalty of the country’s black majority, who make up 90 percent of the population.
President Jacob Zuma led the colourful celebrations attended by thousands of South Africans and dignitaries from around the world, with global leaders praising the ANC as a “beacon for other liberation movements across the continent”.
Zuma addressed thousands who had gathered at Bloemfontein soccer stadium as the party celebrated a centenary since it was formed as the South African Native National Congress on January 8, 1912.
The party was founded with the aim of fighting for the rights of black South Africans and was renamed ANC in 1923.
President Zuma paid tribute to all his predecessors as ANC leader, including the 93 year old Nelson Mandela, who led the party to power after the end of apartheid.
Mandela, adored by many as the founding father of the nation did not attend the event but the crowd responded with a huge cheer when his name was read out.
President Zuma said the centenary was an emotional and yet very exciting and moving occasion.
The celebration was for “all the people of South Africa who with the support of the continent and the world destroyed colonial oppression and apartheid and are building a free, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa together,” he said.
Zuma reflected on the history of the ANC, observing that the party stands for the democratic values of equality.
He quoted the preamble to the ANC’s freedom charter: “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people.”
Popular resistance to apartheid and economic sanctions forced the white government to the negotiating table and the ANC was legalized in 1990. It took power under Mandela four years later, winning 62.6 percent of the vote.
Rwanda’s delegation included ministers Louise Mushikiwabo of Foreign Affairs and Aloisea Inyumba of Gender and Family Promotion; as well as Abdul Karim Harerimana, a member of the East African Legislative Assembly.
Additional reporting by Agencies