Notes Following a Media Briefing by the Foreign Minister, DR Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and her Rwandan Counterpart, MS Rosemary Museminali.
Minister Dlamini Zuma
Thanks members of the media!
We have had our working session of the Joint Commission. We had wide ranging discussions. We agreed on the programme of the year for the Joint Commission.
I will just say a few words. We had a discussion on the political working group which looks at diplomatic issues, multilateral issues and issues of cooperation within government and public administration and then cooperation in training and capacity building and sharing of information, training in languages, English and French and training diplomats. We accepted that we will share the training, training some of the Rwandese diplomats in our training school. We shared ideas on management and all that. We also agreed that we would support Rwanda in respect of commonwealth (inaudible) and so a number of areas like that.
We also agreed on cooperation in public sector training and development. We also looked at issues like justice and a number of sectors where we are already cooperating like police services. We also looked at having an agreement on extradition and we looked at home affairs. The issues of visas and so on, so issues that cover the Rwandese (inaudible) became clear, and also looking at the questions of their study permits and some financial deposits expected from the students.
We also looked at issues of refugees particularly Rwandan refugees who are now resident in South Africa. We agreed that it’s a good thing that people are able to choose to live where they choose as long as there is no destabilisation of one country or the other.
We also looked at economic issues, 2010, cooperation in science and technology as you saw earlier there was an agreement signed. We also looked at issues around transport, trade and industry cooperation in all these areas and discussions around the central development corridor which is important for the transportation of goods and people.
We also talked about the agreement on double taxation which is also important for business people who do business in either side or country. And we looked at social issues, arts and culture, the agreement was signed, sports and recreation we are looking at how to work not only generally but around the 2010 and education. We also talked about the agreement that we could have so that Rwandan students could be treated as SADC as it has been agreed by both Presidents. So that is going to be looked at and of course generally capacity building, a whole range of areas here training, health etc. And we also have a project on Cuba, Rwanda and South Africa and Cuban doctors, and we have agreed to fund part of that project from the Renaissance programme and we agreed that we should get an MOU signed so that we can be able to continue with that project. Basically those are the few things that we talked about and we obviously planned the programme for the coming year and we hope that we will be able to implement that programme as much as possible
I will hand over to the Minister to add.
Minister, what do you think are the major stumbling blocks or challenges between Rwanda and the DRC and how do you hope to overcome those and what is the status generally of Mr Nkunda. Will you hand him over to the DRC if they request?
What is South Africa’s mandate with regards to the SADC Summit in Mbabane on Madagascar, What message do you think will come out from that? Will you be supporting sanctions against Madagascar?
Regarding Congo and about our relationship, I should say we made a lot of progress towards stabilisation of our region because of late we have renewed political and diplomatic cooperation in Rwanda in dealing with the main cause of instability currently in the DRC but generally in the region which is FDL Intermerwawe who killed more than one million people and since then started killing people in DRC raping looting, all sorts of things. So why I say there is progress, Rwanda has been having diplomatic discussions with DRC.
We recently concluded last month a Joint Military Cooperation which was fighting down FDL. They were very seriously dented both their capacity to make war through reducing them by numbers. A few of them were killed and many were repatriated others have surrendered but also great number of families who have been preyed on have been able to return to Rwanda. So we are talking about 5000 thousand people who returned to Rwanda. That was the result of the Joint Cooperation between Rwanda and the DRC.
Since that Joint Military Cooperation we are going to have more discussions actually on 27 -28 (March) with the government of DRC between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and other concerned institutions. I hope we are going to talk about how can we consolidate the activities of our joint operations carried out in north Kivu so that they can be fruitful and can be built on by the DRC because once the joint forces left, that is Rwandan forces DRC remains with the responsibility of dealing with the FDL problem, So part of what we will be discussing is how we can forward these successes and therefore consolidate them.
We are also going to be talking about how do we strengthen both our bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the next coming period because we feel that its part of strengthening security and enhancing the peace. We are going to talk about the possibility of opening Embassies. The DRC has pledged to open its Embassy in Rwanda in the first quarter of the year and we are coming towards the first quarter. So we are hoping that they would be soon appointing their Ambassador. We have agreed to appoint our own Ambassador. So this way of cooperating diplomatically will help us to move closer and help us to deal with our problems together. So there is renewed impetus in that direction and we feel we are going to continue consolidating that.
Regarding the fate of General Nkunda, in our last meeting beginning of this year we agreed that we would put together a team that is going to look at the return of General Nkunda to the DRC. General Nkunda is a Congolese. His final place is the DRC. We agreed that we need to look at how that’s done so that it doesn’t jeopardise the kind gains made. If you look at for example forces led by General Nkunda they are now integrated into the Congolese army. We agreed that we will put a team of Congolese and Rwandese so that we can be able to agree on what process that is going to take place when General Nkunda is returned to his country. So, the Committee has been working together and they are going to give us a report when the next Foreign Ministers meeting take places on the 27 28 (March). Otherwise General Nkunda is in Rwanda where he has been detained since he was arrested but the process of returning him to the DRC is going to be what I have just described.
Minister Dlamini Zuma
Well South Africa as you know as the member of the SADC but also the AU doesn’t subscribe to power through unconstitutional means and therefore we support the SADC call and the Troika’s that Madagascar (Government) should not be of our meetings until there is a government that has been elected properly and that we should be urging those that have taken power unconstitutionally and really putting pressure on them to go, and have a properly elected government if they cannot go to the President that has just left, then they must have an election. It’s totally unacceptable what has happened there.
Minister Dlamini Zuma can you give us clarity on two things: the number of Rwandan refugees in South Africa and on the funding for the health sector and Cuban doctors, any estimate for that?
On the Rwandan refugees I am not sure it may be thousand, I don’t know! On the funding it depends on how many doctors. How it works Cubans sent the doctors and we give them a very minimum amount of stipend kind of, because they get their salaries in Cuba by the Cuban government. We just assist with their stipend in Rwanda. I don’t have the exact figure but it’s a very minimum amount that the actual total depends on the number of doctors that are involved.
Minister will South Africa push for the non recognition of Madagascar which is what the SADC Troika has recommended, but you will further support sanctions if things don’t work out the way SADC or South Africa would want? Did I understand you correctly?
Minister Dlamini Zuma.
Yes you understood me correctly. We support the non recognition. We support pressure including whatever may be agreed whatever to make sure that they go back to constitutionality.
Minister Dlamini Zuma, may I ask you the whole issue around the Daila Lama and the refusal of his visa. What are your views on that? Can you help us understand better?
My views are that we are having a very important sporting tournament, the biggest in the world, 2010! And we are having a lot of activities as a build up to 2010. But we feel that it’s very important to keep the sport and its build up away from all sorts of issues that are there in the world, no matter how many, we feel that its important not to get the 2010 hijacked by other issues whether it’s Tibet or whatever issue may be there in the world.
So clearly if there is a sporting event it must remain a sporting event. We have seen how messy it can be if you begin to pull all sorts of issues into the sporting event. So we would like to keep 2010 clear of other issues. We will deal with other issues in fora that are for those issues but for 2010 and the build up of 2010, lets keep it as sports, lets keep it as soccer as football until we get to 2010 . That is our view!
Can we get clarity on the former president of Madagascar for his stay in South Africa, there have been reports that he is staying in South Africa, is he getting an asylum until the situation is normal?
Minister Dlamini Zuma
He has not officially asked for asylum When and if he asks for asylum we will then look at it .I am not aware that he has officially asked for asylum.