President Paul Kagame on Saturday held talks with South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa on the sidelines of 33rd African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
According to Village Urugwiro, this meeting comes as Ramaphosa prepares to assume chairmanship of the AU at the Summit on Sunday. Ramaphosa is liasing with Kagame as former AU chair, and current chair of the East African Community bloc.
However, away from these obvious engagements, Kagame is meeting Ramaphosa for an issue that has been around for over 10 years: the Rwanda National Congress and ex-army chief Lt Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa.
Since Cyril Ramaphosa became South Africa’s leader in February 2018 after his predecessor Jacob Zuma resigned, he has met President Paul Kagame at least 9 times including today.
The meeting today comes after the Angola Quadripartite Summit, and ahead of the next summit at Gatuna border where Rwanda and Uganda are expected to seal final deal, ending the ongoing fallout.
The Angola MoU between Kagame and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni is borne from issues directly involving South Africa. It is the home for ex-Rwandan army chief Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa, the key individual around whom Rwandan dissidents in different countries have rallied.
According to the government of Rwanda, whose information has been corroborated by a report of the UN Group of Experts on DR Congo in mid 2018, Uganda and Burundi are providing money, recruits and safe passage for “P5” rebel force in South Kivu, DR Congo.
This force is remote-commanded by Gen Kayumba from South Africa, say the government and UN, which has one of the largest peacekeeping forces in Congo.
Uganda, in particular President Museveni himself and his brother Gen Caleb Akandwanaho aka Gen Salim Saleh, are also hosting Rwandan wealthy businessman Tribert Ayabatwa Rujugiro – a financer of Kayumba’s activities, according to Kigali.
President Kagame has publicly insisted that Rwanda has no strategic problem with South Africa, apart from it hosting Gen Kayumba and his Rwanda National Congress (RNC) group elements.
In 2014, South Africa expelled several Rwandan diplomats after Col Patrick Karegeya, a founder member of RNC, had been killed earlier that year. Rwanda also responded with similar action.
However, South Africa went farther; it banned visa for ordinary Rwandans. Since then, apart from Rwandans holding service passports, no others travel to South Africa – a move which has affected many. Despite the rhetoric and promises by South Africa that the visa issue will “soon” be resolved, no visible action takes place.
Apart from issues particular to South Africa, the southern Africa region is of particular interest. It hosts thousands of Rwandan refugees.
Rwanda-South Africa Timeline
February 2018: Cyril Ramaphosa replaces Jacob Zuma as President
March 1, 2018: President Cyril Ramaphosa paid a courtesy call on President Paul Kagame at Village Urugwiro in Kigali ahead of the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the AU Heads of State and Government.
June 30, 2018: President Kagame meets with President Cyril Ramaphosa on the sidelines of the 31st African Union Summit, Mauritania.
February 10, 2019: President Paul Kagame meets South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the sidelines of the AU Summit.
March 6, 2019: President Paul Kagame is hosted in SA for the Young Presidents’ Organization, as keynote speaker. Also met with President Ramaphosa. And during the main YPO event, Ramaphosa’s comments about Rwanda and Kagame turned out to be the highlight.
June 25, 2019: President Kagame attends the Inauguration Ceremony of President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa in Pretoria. The leaders met informally, and Kagame sat next to Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni. Diplomatically, this could not have been accident.
August 29, 2019: President Paul Kagame meets South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on the sidelines of Japan-Africa Summit in Yokohama, Japan.
October 23, 2019: President Paul Kagame held talks in Russia with South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa, at Russia-Africa Summit, Sochi.
November 11, 2019: President Kagame in South Africa for three-day Africa Investment Forum in Sandton. The highlight of the forum was panel involving Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Mozambique’s Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosário were on the high-level panel, which was also aired live on CNBC Africa.
Kagame and Ramaphosa exchanged pleasantries. Ramaphosa said ‘South Africa Is Most Beautiful’, But Then Kagame Reminded Him ‘Rwanda Is Most Business-Friendly’.