Strained Relations:Rwanda and South Africa’s Discord Over the DRC

In a press briefing attended by both national and international journalists on Monday, April 8, 2024, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda shared his reflections on discussions held with his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, regarding the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

During a commemorative event in Kigali marking the 30th anniversary of the genocide, Ramaphosa joined Kagame, yet the specifics of their conversation were not publicly disclosed.

South Africa, leveraging its leadership within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), has played a pivotal role in supporting Congolese government forces against the rebel group M23 in the North Kivu region.

However, Rwanda’s authorities have not warmly received South Africa’s support, asserting that Congolese armed forces still collaborate with rebel groups, notably the FDLR, posing a regional stability threat.

Despite UN mediation efforts to ease tensions, relations between Rwanda and South Africa remain strained, with persistent disagreements over the DRC issue. Ramaphosa’s recent visit to Kigali did not yield significant breakthroughs in this regard.

During the press conference, Kagame emphasized the necessity of constructive dialogue to resolve disputes, yet he also expressed concerns regarding South Africa’s genuine willingness to engage in substantive discussions.

President Kagame stated, “We had a good conversation, we understand the issues well, and it’s possible we may find a way forward. I am optimistic.” Nevertheless, he reiterated that tangible actions are necessary to address persistent issues in the DRC.