Remarks by Minister Dlamini Zuma at the Opening of the Ministerial Session of the Bi-National Commission between South Africa and the DRC

Minister Antipas Mbusa Nyamwisi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation of the Democratic Republic of Congo, honourable Ministers of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of South Africa, it is indeed an honour to be present on this occasion to mark the fourth anniversary of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) of our two countries. This session of the BNC is particularly important because it is the first meeting after the successful democratic elections of the DRC. In this regard we wish to congratulate you most heartily on your outstanding achievement.

On this occasion it is appropriate for me to recall the inspiring and prophetic words of a great son of Africa, Patrice Emery Lumumba, who in a letter to his wife, wrote, and I quote : “…I know and I feel in my heart that sooner or later my people will rid themselves of all their enemies, both internal and external, and that they will rise as one man to say NO to the degradation and shame of colonialism and regain their dignity in the clear light of the sun…”.

These words should inspire and compel us to redouble our efforts to work with speed to overcome the challenges facing us.

Clearly the task that faces us in this fourth Bi-National Commission is to evaluate and assess the progress we are making, and in accordance with instructions we have received from both our Presidents, Joseph Kabila and Thabo Mbeki, that we prioritize areas of our focus in order to speedily make an impact in the post conflict reconstruction and development of the Congo. With this in mind, we should endorse the recommendation that we begin a process of reviewing the existing agreements and MOU’s. We should review the work we are doing in building the human resources and institutional capacity.

The Government programme of the DRC outlines the priorities for us and these are water and electricity, housing, health, education, employment and infrastructure, with the overarching reform of the Security Sector and issues related to gender equality. In focusing on these priorities it is important to take stock of all the work that we have embarked on since our first Bi-National of August 2004. Please allow me to deal with a few areas.

It should be worrying that not all agreements are really operational, even though there is an understanding that the DRC is just emerging from a difficult period of transition. In my opinion, our duty should be to carefully scrutinize all the agreements we have reached with a view to operationalise those that are not functioning, taking into account the priorities as set out by the DRC Government.

In our collaboration so far, we have had a number of achievements amongst which are successful studies on the feasibility of SDI’s (Spatial Development Initiatives). Already the study conducted on our behalf by experts on the feasibility of the Bas-Congo SDI, require our commitment in ensuring implementation. We have also been able to work together in the establishment of a Diplomatic Academy, and on the training of immigration officers. Also progressing well is our collaboration in the areas of Security Sector Reform, Health, Education, Transport, etc. It is gratifying to note that during this BNC, we will sign two new agreements on Transport and Health Related Matters.

Progress has equally been made in the census of the Public Service. One cannot underestimate the important contribution that an effective Public Service will have in assisting the People of the Congo in addressing poverty reduction and underdevelopment.

The establishment of local and provincial Governments structures will be crucial for effective service delivery to all. In this regard the implementation of the proposed decentralization law will be critical. However, despite our modest successes, enormous challenges still remain. This includes, amongst others, the security and stability in the east, transport and energy infrastructure.

We welcome current efforts to revive the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Region (CEPGL) and the establishment of a mechanism to regulate natural and mineral resources. This will go a long way in stabilizing this volatile region.

We wish to congratulate the People of the Congo for its strong commitment to gender equality. It is also our view that this commitment, if pursued with vigour, will contribute significantly to releasing the energy of all of the People of the Congo to tackle these many challenges.

Dear Colleagues, the BNC gives us the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and work. We are conscious of the difficulties confronting us, such as limited financial resources. This compels us to prioritise and focus.

Let me again return to the letter of Patrice Lubumba where he states in conclusion of the remarks I quoted earlier “…History will one day have its say….I know that my country, which is suffering so much will know how to defend its independence and its liberty. Long Live the Congo. Long Live Africa.”

I thank you.

Remarks by Minister Dlamini Zuma at the Opening of the Ministerial Session of the Bi-National Commission between South Africa and the DRC

Minister Antipas Mbusa Nyamwisi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation of the Democratic Republic of Congo, honourable Ministers of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of South Africa, it is indeed an honour to be present on this occasion to mark the fourth anniversary of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) of our two countries. This session of the BNC is particularly important because it is the first meeting after the successful democratic elections of the DRC. In this regard we wish to congratulate you most heartily on your outstanding achievement.

On this occasion it is appropriate for me to recall the inspiring and prophetic words of a great son of Africa, Patrice Emery Lumumba, who in a letter to his wife, wrote, and I quote : “…I know and I feel in my heart that sooner or later my people will rid themselves of all their enemies, both internal and external, and that they will rise as one man to say NO to the degradation and shame of colonialism and regain their dignity in the clear light of the sun…”.

Ces paroles devraient nous inspirer et nous pousser à redoubler d’effort pour travailler rapidement à surmonter les défis qui sont devant nous.

Clearly the task that faces us in this fourth Bi-National Commission is to evaluate and assess the progress we are making, and in accordance with instructions we have received from both our Presidents, Joseph Kabila and Thabo Mbeki, that we prioritize areas of our focus in order to speedily make an impact in the post conflict reconstruction and development of the Congo. With this in mind, we should endorse the recommendation that we begin a process of reviewing the existing agreements and MOU’s. We should review the work we are doing in building the human resources and institutional capacity.

The Governance programme of the DRC outlines the priorities for us and these are water and electricity, housing, health, education, employment and infrastructure, with the overarching reform of the Security Sector and issues related to gender equality. In focusing on these priorities it is important to take stock of all the work that we have embarked on since our first Bi-National of August 2004. Please allow me to deal with a few areas.

It should be worrying that not all agreements are really operational, even though there is an understanding that the DRC is just emerging from a difficult period of transition. In my opinion, our duty should be to carefully scrutinize all the agreements we have reached with a view to operationalise those that are not functioning, taking into account the priorities as set out by the DRC Government.

In our collaboration so far, we have had a number of achievements amongst which are successful studies on the feasibility of SDI’s (Spatial Development Initiatives). Already the study conducted on our behalf by experts on the feasibility of the Bas-Congo SDI, require our commitment in ensuring implementation. We have also been able to work together in the establishment of a Diplomatic Academy, and on the training of immigration officers. Also progressing well is our collaboration in the areas of Security Sector Reform, Health, Education, Transport, etc. It is gratifying to note that during this BNC, we will sign two new agreements on Transport and Health Related Matters.

Des avancées ont également été réalisées dans le cadre du recensement des agents et fonctionnaires de l’Etat. Nul ne peut sous-estimer l’importante contribution qu’un service public efficace peut apporter en aidant le peuple congolais à faire face aux problèmes de réduction de la pauvreté et du sous-développement.

The establishment of local and provincial Governments structures will be crucial for effective service delivery to all. In this regard the implementation of the proposed decentralization law will be critical. However, despite our modest successes, enormous challenges still remain. This includes, amongst others, the security and stability in the east, transport and energy infrastructure.

We welcome current efforts to revive the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Region (CEPGL) and the establishment of a mechanism to regulate natural and mineral resources. This will go a long way in stabilizing this volatile region.

Nous aimerions féliciter le peuple congolais pour son profond attachement à l’égalité des sexes. Notre point de vue est que si un tel engagement est vigoureusement maintenu, il va contribuer de façon significative à libérer les energies de l’ensemble du peuple congolais pour relever les multiples défis auxquels il est confronté.

Dear Colleagues, the BNC gives us the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and work. We are conscious of the difficulties confronting us, such as limited financial resources. This compels us to prioritise and focus.

Let me again return to the letter of Patrice Lubumba where he states in conclusion of the remarks I quoted earlier “…History will one day have its say….I know that my country, which is suffering so much will know how to defend its independence and its liberty. Long Live the Congo. Long Live Africa.”

Je vous remercie


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