South Africa protests to Rwanda over Lindiwe Sisulu slur

Lindiwe Sisulu
Lindiwe Sisulu

The government of South Africa has summoned the Rwandan envoy in Pretoria after a Rwandan pro-government news site reportedly called a key minister a “prostitute,”

Another Key official Ms. Lindiwe Sisulu, the South African international relations minister, has also been criticised on Twitter by a senior Rwandan official.

According to her spokesperson, the remarks were “unacceptable” and “must stop.”

Earlier Ms. Sisulu met with Rwanda’s exiled critic and Army Chief General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, in Johannesburg triggering a diplomatic row between the two countries.

The Minister stressed that she was pleasantly surprised to hear that Mr Nyamwasa, who has established an opposition party in South Africa, was willing to negotiate a reconciliation deal with his former government.

The exiled army chief has been living in exile in South Africa since 2010, after falling out with Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.

In response to the meeting, Rwanda’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Olivier Nduhungirehe, criticised the meeting on his Twitter account, describing it as offensive.

Nduhungirehe pointed out that if any South African official wanted to negotiate with a “convicted criminal” who was leading a “subversive movement”, they were free to do so – but they should “never think” of involving Rwanda in the process.

In another twist, a Rwandan pro-government news website also referred to Ms Sisulu as Mr Nyamwasa’s “prostitute,”

The site faced scrutiny, and it was forced to remove the story but not to undo the damage.

According to the Ministers spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya, the Rwandan envoy in Pretoria had been told that the tone of comments was unacceptable.

The South African High Commissioner in Kigali, George Twala, had also been recalled to Pretoria for consultations, he added.

“It is our commitment to normalise the relations, but we can be more focused without being insulted on social media and the use of undiplomatic language,” he stressed.

Diplomatic rows

In 2014, South Africa expelled three Rwandan diplomats in connection with an attack on Mr Nyamwasa’s home in Johannesburg. Rwanda retaliated by ordering out six South African envoys.

So far, Mr Nyamwasa has survived at least two assassination attempts in exile.

In 2014, Four men were found guilty by a South African court over a gun attack that left him with stomach wounds. Mr Nyamwasa described the attack as politically motivated.

In 2014, Rwanda’s former intelligence chief, Colonel Patrick Karegeya, was murdered in a hotel suite in Johannesburg.

Shortly after the murder, Mr Kagame said: “You can’t betray Rwanda and not get punished for it. Anyone, even those still alive, will reap the consequences. Anyone. It is a matter of time.”

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