Rwanda And South Africa are “friends” – says DP Ramaphosa

Deputy President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa
Deputy President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa

South Africa’s Depute President Cyril Ramaphosa, currently in Rwanda for high level appearances at the World Economic Forum on Africa has sent yet a new clear message that Kigali and Pretoria may have differences – but share more than what conflicts them.

Ramaphosa did not hold back when asked about Rwanda at a separate event on the sidelines of the 3-day Forum in the Rwandan capital Kigali. More than 3,000 leaders and business executives have descended on Kigali April 11-13, 2016.

“Even though we are a bigger economy, we are learning from Rwanda…particularly in ICTs,” said the Deputy President.

“It won’t be three hours to set up a firm [in SA] like in Rwanda, but the regulatory framework will be better for business.”

Commenting on the bitter diplomatic fallout between the two sides sometime ago following counter-allegations of espionage, Ramaphosa clarified that “learning is mutual”.

South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa (front-center) arrives at Kigali International airport for the WEF. He was received by Rwanda's Mines State Minister Evode Imena (right)
South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa (front-center) arrives at Kigali International airport for the WEF. He was received by Rwanda’s Mines State Minister Evode Imena (right)

“You can only learn from friends,” he said, essentially affirming that if SA and Rwanda had problems, Pretoria wouldn’t bother taking any lessons from the Rwanda experience.

South Africa expelled three Rwandan diplomats in May last year. Rwanda had also sent packing six South African diplomats from Kigali.

Ramaphosa recognized Rwanda’s business and investment facilitation efforts launched in 2005. “It takes three hours to open business in Rwanda,” he said.

He added: “What Rwanda has done… making Internet free is something we admire and want to learn from.”

“Friendship between Rwanda and SA will deepen,” he said. “President Kagame welcomed us with open arms….”

“South Africa and Rwanda are determined to work together, and we enjoy cordial relations with the Rwandan government.”

“I was quick to tell Kagame that what he did with ICT and making internet free is what we aspire to be,” Ramaphosa said.

Rwanda recently launched free visa entry for many African countries, and you do not need to apply for visa from Rwandan embassies to enter Rwanda from any part of the continent. All you do is pick your bags and head to Rwanda. At the airport is where you get your visa in minutes.

For the South African deputy president, all nations should pick the leaf.

“….clearly in order to enhance integration we need easy flow for Africans,” he said.

“The ease of travel to Rwanda and adopting such in South Africa is something we are looking at as we enjoy wonderful relations with the government of Paul Kagame.”

It remains to be seen if Pretoria will work on removing curbs imposed on Rwandan nationals who have to face stringent rules to travel to SA. Getting a South African visa has become near-impossible.

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