South African Government assistance Package to Burundi and the Congo and the alignment with its National Interest and the African Renaissance
FOR WRITTEN REPLY
QUESTION 2650 (NW3102E)
PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 28-2011 OF 9 SEPTEMBER 2011
Mr Ls Ngonyama (COPE) to ask the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation:
Whether the Government’s assistance package to Burundi and the Congo is in line with its national interest and the African Renaissance; if not, why not; if so, (a) what is the national interest in this regard and (b) what is the specific African Renaissance that the Government is pursuing?
With regard to Burundi, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation would like to indicate that there is currently no African Renaissance Fund Project for Burundi and that therefore there is no assistance package for Burundi. The information provided here-under is therefore for information.
South Africa continues to contribute to the consolidation of the African Agenda focusing inter alia on institutions of good governance and effecting socio-economic development as well as Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development. This is in the mutual interests of the recipient Government as well as South Africa and the broader African continent.
To this end, President Zuma undertook a State Visit to Burundi from 10 to 12 August 2011. The following Memoranda of Understanding and/or Agreements where concluded: Defence; Higher Education and Training; Agriculture; Sports and Recreation; and Trade and Industry.
During the visit President Zuma indicated support for the establishment of a Burundi Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to bring closure to the Peace Process and reiterated South Africa’s willingness to assist with technical expertise to reconcile the Burundian nation. Currently a seven- person technical committee, appointed by the Government of Burundi, is visiting South Africa to meet with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development as well as the Nelson Mandela Foundation and other experts in the field of TRC and reconciliation – for example, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation. This study visit is aimed at assisting the committee to gain insight and experience in order to place them in a position to make appropriate recommendations to the Government of Burundi on the establishment of the TRC.
On the other hand, South Africa’s involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo is in line with the overall South African objective of conflict resolution and promotion of peace on the continent. In this regard, South Africa has been and is involved in assisting the DRC to effectively manage its programmes within the Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) programme. The General Cooperation Agreement to promote political, economic and social cooperation between South Africa and the DRC was signed on 14 January 2004 and makes provision for the establishment of a Bi-National Commission (BNC) as an annual forum for exchange and dialogue with a strong focus on PCRD. The most recent South Africa / DRC Bi-National Commission meeting was held from 16 to 21 June 2011 in Lubumbashi.
One of the key areas of South Africa’s involvement in the DRC is in the Security Sector Reform (SSR) programme of the DRC Government. In this regards, South Africa’s support relates to the integration of the army; demobilisation and reinsertion into normal civilian life, the reintegration of demobilised soldiers and the training of the integrated brigades. South Africa also supported the dialogue in the eastern DRC which concluded with agreements between the DRC Government and her neighbours as well as with organised militia, thereby establishing opportunities to bring peace to that part of the country.
Peace and security is important to the African Agenda. Without peace and security there can be no sustainable development, and without sustainable development there can be no peace and security and the achievement of the Medium Development Goals in Africa will remain a dream deferred. We therefore need peace, not war.