SA-Rwanda relations strained after foreign Minister called prostitute

Lindiwe Sisulu

JOHANNESBURG – The normalisation of diplomatic relations between Rwanda and South Africa are again under discussion following the recent incident where South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu was called a “prostitute” by a pro-government website.

South African Ambassador to Rwanda, George Twala, has also reportedly been called to SA to report on developments which saw an ugly public spat centred around Sisulu and exiled former Rwanda army chief General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa in Johannesburg recently.

Sisulu was criticised on Twitter by Rwandan deputy foreign minister Olivier Nduhungirehe, although she was not named in the tweet, according to media reports.

The vitriol aimed at the South African minister follows a recent meeting she held with Nyamwasa in Johannesburg in which the two discussed possible reconciliation with Kigali.

Sisulu was also referred to as “Mr Nyamwasa’s prostitute” in the headline story on pro-government website Rushyashya althoough this has since been removed.

Nduhungirehe said South Africa was free to negotiate with a “convicted criminal” who is “leading a subversive movement”, but must not involve Rwanda in this “negotiation”.

Nyamwasa fled Rwanda in 2010 and has been based in South Africa ever since. He has since established a Rwandan opposition party.

President Paul Kgame’s government has continued a crackdown on critics, political opponents and journalists, with a wave of arrests, disappearances and draconian jail sentences. In December 2013, Patrick Karegeya, Rwanda’s former head of intelligence, was murdered in an upmarket hotel in Sandton, allegedly by Rwandan agents.

The latest crisis comes at a point in time when relations between Rwanda and South Africa had just begun to normalise following a previous freeze between the two countries dating back to 2010, following accusations by Kigali that dissidents were using South Africa as a base.

Sisulu’s spokesperson has said the comments aimed at the minister are unacceptable and Pretoria has lodged a protest with the Rwandan government at the highest level.

African News Agency (ANA)