Press Comments made by South African President Thabo Mbeki and
President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila, Tuynhuys, Cape Town,
Thursday, 14 June 2007
President Thabo Mbeki
ladies and gentlemen.
President Kabila, let me say a warm welcome to you
and your delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
know, President Kabila is paying a State Visit to South Africa. He will this afternoon
address a joint sitting of parliament and we will meet a big group of business
people tomorrow morning.
Today we have had a discussion with the President
and his delegation to look at what do we do next. As you know, the President and
ourselves have been working together for some years now on various matters - firstly
the negotiations that led to the establishment of the transitional government
and then preparations for the elections and so on.
These discussions with
the President has given us an opportunity to congratulate the President and his
government on the progress that has thus far been made with elections being held
last year, the subsequent drafting and adoption of the constitution and so on.
The President and his delegation have briefed us on the areas of priority
his government has identified: infrastructure, water, health, housing, energy,
agriculture and such areas which we need to focus on to address developmental
We have a binational commission between the DRC and South Africa
that will meeting in August in the DRC to look at what we do with regard to these
identified priority areas.
There is also other areas of work that was underway
from before the holding of elections in the area of capacity building of government
institutions between the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Public Service and Administration,
Defence, Police, security sector reform. So co-operation is already underway in
these various areas that will be escalated. I am referring to the matter of capacity
You must be aware that the President and his colleagues inherited
a country that was in crisis for many decades. So the matter of building up the
mechanism of the State machinery becomes very important. This is one of the areas
Let me conclude by saying, a very warm welcome. This is
a very comprehensive programme of co-operation. Now that you have a stable democracy
and processes, we have to ascertain what next needs to be done to address these
developmental challenges. We are trying to do this both as government and as I
have already indicated, we will meet with a large group of business people tomorrow
morning to inspire them to be part of this rebuilding of the DRC.
Thank you Mr President to you and your government for the warm
welcome we have received since we arrived in Cape Town yesterday afternoon.
is not my first visit to South Africa nor is the first visit for many members
of my delegation. I was here for the Inter-Congolese Dialogue that was held in
South Africa over a period of months. It is through this that we achieved what
we set out to achieve 5-6 years ago - reunification, organisation of elections
and the setting up of democratic institutions which are now in place.
only difference between the other visits and this one, apart from the fact that
it is a State Visit, is that you have a democratically elected President, institutions
that are in place and off course, we could not have achieved all this without
sustained support from yourself, the government and people of South Africa in
various sectors, mostly the Defence sector and off course in as far as the organisation
of elections was concerned. Thanks a lot for this.
With elections come expectations
and in the Congo, the elections have been followed by very very high expectations
in as far as the consolidation of democracy is concerned and in as far as the
social sector is concerned. We are very determined to ensure these legitimate
expectations of the Congolese people are met internally and with the support of
various partners, of which South Africa is one major partner.
in order to achieve those results and the objectives we have set ourselves we
are looking forward Mr President to seeing you in the DRC in August this year
in order to try and consolidate the already very strong relations that exist through
the SA-DRC Binational Commission.
Questions and answers
President Mbeki we have heard a great deal from you and your officials regarding
what has been done so far. You will be aware that our raw materials and capital
have been leaving the DRC. What does your government intend to do about this?
What does South Africa intend to do regarding development assistance to the DRC?
I'm sure you will have heard what has been said: the SA-DRC BNC will meet in August
2007 in the DRC - we have tried to indicate the priority areas in terms of what
has been identified by the DRC government for the development of the DRC. Those
are the matters that will serve on the agenda for our August meeting. What has
to happen between now and then is to make the necessary preparations so we can
say these are the priority areas of infrastructure and then to say what it is
we can do about this - ie. what are the resources that can be generated to support
these processes. Perhaps you would ask this question at the end of August since
we have tried to indicate to you where we are going and what are the areas of
Off course, we are talking of a partnership between South Africa
and the DRC - not of South Africa coming to the DRC without the support of the
government of the DRC - we must work as a partnership.
With regard to the
second question, I think President Kabila will answer that question. Off course
the Congolese government must deal with the illegal export of capital and materials
from the DRC.
Question President Kabila, could you respond to the demands
of the Congolese community who gathered outside Tuynhuys this morning - that of
the regularization of their situation in South Africa and the achievement of peace
in Eastern DRC?
Answer I had thought that the Congolese had assembled
outside Tuynhuys to welcome me to South Africa. The issues raised by the Congolese
are certainly ones that need to be addressed - particularly regarding the regularization
of their status in South Africa and the security situation in eastern DRC.
Decisions have been taken by senior defence counsel in the DRC with a view to
finding a sustainable solution to the problem of peace in eastern DRC. Measures
have been taken at political, diplomatic and at a military level with a view to
finding a solution. Government and institutions are determined to establish peace
in this war torn region. Peace in the region requires a great deal of determination,
indeed, passionate determination because the people living in this part of our
country have had enough now.
I do no want to tell you any lies so I will
tell you that the matter of the regularization of the situation of Congolese people
living in South Africa without regular papers was dealt with by President Mbeki
and myself in our discussions. However, we hope, possible through the BNC that
the Ambassadors and Ministries of Foreign Affairs will be able to take this matter
up and find a sustainable solution for this as well.
Mbeki and Kabila, have you discussed political issues and more specifically that
of Senator Bemba and specifically to President Kabila, is there a possibility
of Senator Bemba returning to the DRC to participate in the political process?
President Mbeki are you urging both parties in the DRC towards reconciliation?
(President Kabila) I will be very brief in my answer since the situation is
very clear. It is not up to President Kabila to allow Senator Bemba to return
to the DRC or not. That is not part of my job.
Before Senator Bemba left
or shortly thereafter, the Prosecutor General introduced a demand at the Senate
for his immunity to be waived so that he would respond to a number of charges
regarding the events of the 22-23 March 2007 in Kinshasa. It is now up to the
Senate to agree to and accept this demand, or not.
Otherwise, the issue
is as simple as it presents itself and is not complicated. It is now a matter
for the institutions - the Justice System and the Senate.
Mbeki) Off course, you would also know that SADC at the SADC Summit in March
2007 agreed with what the President has just said. We now have a democratic country
which has its own institutions and procedures and the region said it would be
important for everyone, including Senator Bemba, for these institutions and procedures
to be respected. So indeed, the matter will be decided by the Congolese in terms
of its own processes.
Question President Kabila, would you outline for
us the opportunities for South African entrepreneurs in the Congo, advantages
and encouragement that will be given to them?
Answer What are
the possibilities? I addressed this matter in 2002 during a visit when I met the
business community. In 2002 however the political situation was very difficult
and not attractive to the private sector. What I will say today is what I will
say to the business community tomorrow.
What is there to attract the business
community to the DRC? Firstly the political situation and political stability
with democratic institutions that are in place. Secondly, a number of reforms
that are underway - the macro-economic situation that has been stable for a very
long time and off course we have put in place a number of laws: the mining and
investment codes that are very attractive to the business community from South
Africa or elsewhere. The advantages are there and many indeed - peace and security,
the justice system that is currently being overhauled so that if and when investors
invest in the Congo, there investments are very safe.
Issued by Department
of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
14 June 2007