Cape Town - South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have signed a visa waiver agreement for official and diplomatic passport holders.
The agreement was signed on Monday by Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior and Security of the DRC, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadari in Tshwane.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mkhize said the signing of the agreement is a positive step towards enhancing relations between South Africa and the DRC.
“The Republic of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the 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,” says Mkhize.
SEE: #TopSecret: Rarest Passport in the World?
Mkhize said diplomatic ties between the two countries are growing and this is evident in the recent training programme of diplomats from the DRC. To date, more than 700 DRC diplomats have been trained.
Mkhize says the visa waiver will further enhance cooperation between SA and the DRC by making it even easier for officials to regularly interact with each other without hindrance.
Shadari said the agreement will offer the two countries a lot of advantages. “The agreement will facilitate easy movement of officials from the two countries.”
The two countries agreed at the 10th Session of the BNC, which took place in Tshwane in June 2017, that the visa waiver pact must be concluded in July.
South Africa also has a planned trade mission to the DRC, which will be taking place soon.
“We are quite excited about the upcoming trade mission. The Department of Trade and Industry has invited companies in the agro-processing sector to apply for participation in the seventh Investment and Trade Initiative to the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Mkhize said.
More #AfriTravel visa-free access
No indication has been given if and when the visa waiver will be extended to citizens of each country in the future. Negotiations are currently underway for an African Union Passport - aimed at allowing citizens on the continent to travel more freely.
While the South African passport recently received a serious snub from the likes of New Zealand - who has rescinded visa-free access for Saffas since November 2016 - our green mamba is not the worst passport in the world to have.
SEE: New Zealand visa requirements 101: What Saffas and Kiwis need to know
Since April 2017, for example, locals will be able to enjoy visa on arrival reciprocity with Russia, with places like St Petersburg seen more and more as an affordable eastern European destination for locals.
SEE: Russia to scrap visas for SA travellers from April
Added to this, our Department of Home Affairs has also officially submitted a formal proposal for the European Union to consider Visa-Free travel for South Africans.
The proposal is said to be consideration, according to the DHA, which announced in September last year that talks were held with the European Union Ambassador Marcus Cornaro regarding the relaxation or elimination of its visa requirements for South African passport holders.
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