Kagame Put Ramaphosa Under Surveillance while the Rwandan Strongman Sought to Normalize Relations with South Africa

By David Himbara

General Paul Kagame is emerging as a busy spy on fellow African leaders. It turns out that Kagame’s surveillance victims include South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Shockingly, Kagame put Ramaphosa’s phone under surveillance while Kagame was pressing hard for reviving Rwanda-South Africa relations. This is in addition to Kagame surveillance adventurism in the Great Lakes Region against Burundian, Congolese and Ugandan leaders.

The South African and Rwandan presidents with their foreign ministers in Rwanda in May 2018

In 2018–2019, General Paul Kagame was pushing hard to fix the broken relations between Rwanda and South Africa. And the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was warming to the idea of normalizing the relations. Ramaphosa announced during his visit to Rwanda that he and his Rwandan counterpart, Kagame, were going to urgently normalize their relations. The diplomatic relations between the two countries had collapsed in 2014 after a series of attempts to murder in South Africa the exiled Rwandan General Kayumba Nyamwasa, and the assassination of Colonel Patrick Karegeya on New Year’s Eve of 2013. In Kigali, Rwanda, Ramaphosa reassured his hosts that they should consider “Rwanda-South Africa issue as a matter resolved.

It now turns out that while South Africa and Rwanda were negotiating the fixing of their broken relationship, Kagame had other ideas – he was spying on Cyril Ramaphosa. This is revealed in the findings by the Guardian and other media partners in the Pegasus project. Rwanda is featuring prominently among governments that use Israeli spyware to place political activists, human rights defenders and journalists under surveillance. But as we previously discussed, Rwanda did not only spy on political activists, human rights defenders, and journalists but also on political leaders in neighbouring countries of Burundi, DRC, and Uganda. It now turns out that Kagame went as far as South Africa to spy on political leaders – in this case, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Stay tuned.