South Africa’s Ambassador to Uganda, Professor Lekoa Solly Mollo, has called for the scrapping of entry visas between the two countries.
Mollo told Uganda’s Observer newspaper on Wednesday that visa-free travel between the two countries was important because of the two countries’ political history and growing trade ties.
Mollo added that with the current number of Ugandans going to South Africa and South Africans coming to Uganda for trade, business, education and tourism surging, there was a need to abolish visas and ease travel for the economic development of both countries, the Observer reported.
“Trade relations between the two countries have increased with over 70 South African companies such as MTN and Stanbic working in Uganda,” he said.
“Children go to school between the two countries and even in Makerere University, we have South Africans, we have them in primary schools and the same applies to Ugandans studying in South Africa,” he added.
The fact that Uganda had played a key role in South Africa’s liberation from apartheid was further reason to scrap the visa system, said Mollo.
“You cannot talk about South Africa’s freedom without talking about Uganda, the two countries that provided us a home were Uganda and Tanzania,” he added.
“The relationship between Uganda and South Africa is a historical one. It’s not a relationship that was crafted with the signing of memorandums in boardrooms, but a relationship born out of the struggle for freedom in the trenches of battle through sweat and blood.”
Mollo told the African News Agency (ANA) during an interview earlier in the year that he had been based in Uganda as a cadre of the African National Congress’ armed wing Umkhonto We Sizwe during the liberation struggle and that he wouldn’t forget how good Kampala had been to both him and his comrades.
According to Mollo, preparations to make this a reality were underway after both the South African and Ugandan authorities responded positively to the idea.
“At an official level, the request has already been made and technocrats of both countries are working on all those things. However, it’s not something easy because of terrorism,” Mollo said.
The ambassador went on to explain that before such a move could take place, security agencies of both countries and Interpol needed to be engaged in the move.