By David Himbara
General Paul Kagame’s regime cheerfully celebrated South African cabinet reshuffle, especially the change of ministers responsible for foreign affairs and the retention of the finance minister. Rwandan foreign minister, Richard Sezibera, congratulated his new South African counterpart, Naledi Pandor, noting that ”I look forward to working with you to strengthen relations between our two countries.” Rwanda minister of state for foreign affairs, Olvier Nduhungirehe, rejoiced the Pandor appointment with these words: ”Let’s make our relations great again!.” Nduhungirehe also celebrated Tito Mboweni, South Africa’s minister of finance who retained his portfolio in these words:
”Congratulations Minister @tito_mboweni for your reappointment as Minister of Finance!In Rwanda, we usually say. “TURONGEYE TURARIYE” to congratulate a friend appointed at an important position: It is roughly translated as “here comes the food again”!
Sezibera, too, was overjoyed by the retention of Mboweni, calling him ”comrade” and welcoming Mboweni ”back to the club of ”MinistersWithoutBorders” which is ”what Africa needs.” Mboweni was at one time a member of the Kagame technical team reforming the African Union (AU).
Rwandan celebrations may be premature
The Kagame regime seems to think that South Africa operates like Rwanda where the totalitarian ruler determines everything. South Africa is a country of laws. The retention of Mboweni and appointment of Pandor as the minister in-charge of foreign affairs do not automatically translate into the normalization of Rwanda-South Africa relations. The reason the relations collapsed in 2014 remain — and are legal in nature, namely, the killing of the former Rwandan intelligence chief Patrick Karegeya. A South Africa court ordered the National Prosecuting Authority in April 2019 to try the people believed to have murdered Karegeya. The court stated that the people who killed Karegeya are connected to the Kagame regime. These individuals were named in court — they are Apollo Kirisisi Gafaranga, Alex Sugira, Samuel Niyoyita, and Vianney Nshizirungu. The reshuffle of cabinet ministers in South Africa does change this outstanding legal question.