PRETORIA, August 01 – The signing of a visa waiver agreement for holders of diplomatic and official passports between South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) shows the commitment to the deepening of existing relations and a reduction of hindrance for officials to travelling on the continent, Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize said on Monday.
Mkhize made the remarks in Pretoria where she signed the visa waiver agreement with a DRC delegation led by the Deputy Prime Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadari, who is also Minister for Interior and Security.
“I am greatly honoured to welcome you all to this important occasion, Importantly, this positive step serving further to enhance relations between our two countries, is taking place in the year South Africa is celebrating the life of one of the finest sons of the African continent and long-serving president of the African National Congress in exile — Mr Oliver Reginald Tambo,” said Mkhize.
“The Republic of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo maintain good diplomatic and political relations. The highest expression of our relations is the annual Bi-National Commission (BNC), co-chaired by the heads of State. Through the BNC, we have been able indeed to consolidate the bonds of friendship among ourselves in the interest of the people of our two countries and those of the people of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).”
The decision to expedite the signing of the visa waiver agreement was taken at the last BNC hosted in South Africa earlier this year.
“The successful BNC in June, concluded by our two heads of State, President Jacob Zuma and President Joseph Kabila, re-affirmed good relations between our two countries on matters of trade, defence, foreign relations and indeed cooperation on immigration,” said Mkhize.
“As members of (the Southern African Development Community) SADC, we have committed ourselves, through the Protocol on Facilitation of Movement of Persons that we shall continuously collaborate with each other progressively to attain the goal of easing travel and expanding trade and cooperation. This agreement should therefore be seen as a step in the right direction.”
She said the visa waiver was in line with the goal of enhancing cooperation, by making it easier for officials to regularly interact with each other, without less hindrances.
Shadari said the bilateral agreement has several advantages for the relationship between Pretoria and Kinshasa.
“The most important advantage of this agreement is that it will facilitate the easy movement between our two countries. It specifically allows officials between the two countries to travel freely between our two countries. That free movement by officials will facilitate the implementation of already existing agreements between the two countries,” said Shadari through an interpreter.
“I cannot emphasise enough the importance of this agreement to us. Not only does this agreement facilitate entry for our respective officials, it also facilitates the transit of officials through South Africa. That is very important for us.”