SA, Rwanda to advance relations at Joint Commission

Wednesday, March 25, 2009
By: 
Bathandwa Mbola

Cape Town - South Africa and Rwanda are to advance bilateral relations at the South Africa-Rwanda Joint Commission of Co-operation (JCC) on Tuesday by signing several agreements.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will co-chair the SA-Rwanda JCC with her Rwandese counterpart Rosemary Museminali in Cape Town.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs the two will sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Water Affairs and Forestry, an agreement on co-operation in the fields of arts and culture and an agreement on science and technology.

Minister Dlamini Zuma's participation in the session comes within the context of South Africa's commitment to consolidate the African agenda through, among others, the strengthening of bilateral relations with African countries and promoting post-conflict reconstruction and development initiatives.

"The SA-Rwanda Joint Commission of Cooperation is held within the context of consolidating structured political relations between the two countries and to take stock of the progress made since the last session of the SA/Rwanda JCC held in August 2006 in Kigali," the department said.

Since the inauguration of the JCC in Pretoria in June 2001, significant progress has been recorded by the various working groups to develop and implement post-reconstruction programmes in Rwanda to build capacity in critical areas, the department explained.

"Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between SA and Rwanda, bilateral relations between the two countries have been characterised by close contact at a high political level."

Rwanda has been a partner in championing the consolidation of the African Agenda by being among the first countries to volunteer for the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and by actively contributing troops to African Peacekeeping Missions in the Comoros and Darfur respectively.

South Africa and Rwanda signed the General Agreement on Bilateral Co-operation in 1999 for the establishment of a JCC at a ministerial level which provides a formal framework for concrete direction to bilateral relations in a wide range of areas.

The establishment of a strategic partnership between South Africa and Rwanda in promoting the objectives of the African Union and the African development agenda within the framework of the JCC and NEPAD, is underscored by a high-level engagement between South Africa and Rwandan public and private sector stakeholders.

In December 2007, South Africa hosted the Mid-Term Review Mechanism (MTRM) session to review progress of the different JCC working groups in preparation for the meeting.

The JCC consisted of a number of Working Groups from national departments.

These included the departments of Foreign Affairs, the SA Management Development Institute, Water Affairs and Forestry, South African Revenue Services (SARS), Correctional Services, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Science and Technology, Defence, Health, among others.