Remarks on Commencement of South Africa – Democratic Republic of Congo Binational Commission, Presidential Guesthouse, Pretoria, Thursday 3 April 2008

Opening Remarks by Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Joseph Kabila

Remarks by President Thabo Mbeki

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. 

We will indeed again identify some challenges with regard to the implementation of our agreements but fortunately President, I think we will also confirm this common commitment on both sides to respond to those challenges so that we accomplish the objectives we have set ourselves.

And in that context President, I must again emphasize our own continued belief that the success of the DRC is important, obviously for the Congolese people but we continue to believe that it is very important for the success of our continent as well. 

Therefore, the work that the BNC does is of importance, not only to our two countries but also to the rest of our continent.

Welcome President and your delegation and indeed, I do look forward, as usual to having a meeting that looks specifically at all these things we have to do.

Remarks by President Joseph Kabila

Mr President, Ministers, experts, first and foremost I would like to extend my gratitude to the government and people of South Africa for all the facilities made available to us and also for the very warm welcome that has been given to myself and the delegation accompanying me.

As agreed Mr President, in the last session held in Kinshasa in August 2007, this session of the BNC aims mainly at assessing the various bilateral agreements signed between our two countries since January 2004 when we signed the General Co-operation Agreement.  This assessment will help us focus on result orientated action and co-operation priorities.  The way that is best paved will help identify a very realistic timetable for concrete projects that can be implemented.

We are also in favour of refocusing our strength on energy, electricity, portable water, and basic infrastructure which does not mean that we will slacken our efforts in co-operation on other cross-cutting issues like defence, security, public administration, taxation and customs, business and investment.

On the contrary, important achievements, in these sectors should be used as a basis in order to better implement activities in the areas in which we deem to be priorities.

As we go on to assess various projects some recurrent weaknesses standing before us as impediments especially regarding the ratification process of the various agreements – the very low ownership at the institutional level shortcomings as we go onto project formulation and also limited co-ordination regarding resource monitoring.
Mr President, I am very happy on the progress made with regard to this last element of resource mobilisation.  I am very proud of the credit line South African banks have agreed to provide for the implementation of projects with very quick social impact.

Your Excellency, President Thabo Mbeki, ladies and gentlemen, Ministers, before I conclude I would like to hail the excellent co-operation existing between the Independent Electoral Commission and its South African counterpart.  In the DRC, one of the key challenges is the completion of establishing democratic institutions through the organisation of urban, municipal and local elections.  I am convinced of the need to take up this challenge so that together we can finish what we started together.

I thank you very much.

Comments by Minister Dlamini Zuma on conclusion of SA-DRC BNC

Thank you very much President Mbeki and President Kabila.

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, we have just concluded the 5th session of the South Africa – Democratic Republic of Congo BNC and it is really divided into the following commissions: Politics and Governance, Defence and Security, Humanitarian and Social Affairs, Economy Finance and Infrastructure.  Those are the four commissions.

The first, Politics and Governance is divided into two and I will give you a few brief highlights on each one of them.

One the first one: Politics and Governance – we have divided it into two, as you know: Capacity Building, is one of the priorities that we had long ago agreed upon.  There is ongoing work in this regard – we are training diplomats and a whole range of civil servants.  In fact, this training covers all the commissions so I will not come back to it when I discuss the other commissions.  There is capacity building and training in all the commissions and that is ongoing work.  More than 600 people have been trained and even more will be trained in the coming period and also linked to capacity building, is the need to building capacity in South Africa particularly with regard to language training.  South Africans will therefore be trained in French – the Congolese will also train in English skills.  Although a lot of people do speak English, a lot more will be trained.

We are also continuing with the programme of census – you will remember that a census was performed for the public service in Kinshasa.  Now the census will have to other sectors of the society outside Kinshasa and that work will be ongoing.  The people who have been doing the census are incorporated into the Department so that there will be a specialised unit that will be conducting the census throughout the country.

There is also co-operation on rehabilitating a training institute for civil servants and this will be done together with the South African Public Service Department so that is ongoing work.

There is anti-corruption work that is taking place and there is good co-operation there.

And off course, there is the decentralisation of public administration and that is a whole programme that is going to take place around this.

And then, in the Commission on Defence and Security – I am sure you are very familiar with this since this work that is ongoing for a long time.  It involves the work of the demobilisation and registration of the military people.  It involves the rehabilitation of defence training places in the various places, Kamina and others.  So again, there is a lot of strengthening of human resource and also it involves equipping both military and ICT – that has been done and off course, there is also the security side – the training of police that has been ongoing.  There is also equipment that has been provided, and so on, to continue doing the work.  This is ongoing work and the two Presidents have decreed that this work is the priority of priorities so there is going to be a lot of concentration on this work and there is also the question of mobilising resources and there is a plan to mobilise resources, particularly for this.  As you know, before the elections there were other countries that were working with the DRC and ourselves and also helping with financing – the Netherlands, Belgium and so on and this will continue and there is also work done around the justice sub-committee which is also part of this sub-committee – training of magistrates, seminars that will be taking, training in the drafting of legislation, and legal and constitutional frameworks so a whole range of issues will be taking place.

In the economy, finance and infrastructure – this is a huge commission but we have again divided it into infrastructure which includes energy infrastructure, transport infrastructure – rail, road and air.  There is infrastructure that has to deal with the rehabilitation of ports, airports, roads and rail.  Transnet will be co-operating and there will be also be work done under agriculture, tourism and environment.  There are four priorities that have been identified including technical exchange, the exchange of information and a symposium on biofuels because the DRC, together with South Africa, is interested in biofuels, veterinary training, aqua-culture, so these are some of the issues that are being discussed in this commission.

Tourism – off course, you know that the DRC is a beautiful country, big and has a huge potential for tourism so there is ongoing discussion in this regard.

There are discussions on housing – we are hoping to finalise an MoU in this regard and also the MoU on public works co-operation is going to be finalised.  The counterparts will be visiting each other and we are hoping to also finalise the MoU on merchant shipping and other maritime matters.

Off course, resource mobilisation and training is part of this.

On social and humanitarian affairs: education is one of the areas that is ongoing.  Some work has started in co-operation in education but more needs to be done.

There is a lot of co-operation in health – both capacity building, looking at training infrastructure, also looking at how DRC health workers who are in South Africa can assist in the rebuilding of the DRC and to that effect, not only for health workers, there will be a seminar that will he held in May to look at inviting the DRC diaspora in South Africa with a view to assisting them and assessing how they can help in the work that has to be done.  These workers have been helping us in South Africa but the DRC needs them now.

Off course, institutional work is also cross-cutting.  SAMDI will be co-operating with the equivalent institution in the DRC.

This is a brief summation of the areas we have covered.

We have also agreed to strengthen the co-ordination of all this work.  We have agreed to meet regularly and not just before the BNC.

We have agreed to begin co-ordination and resource mobilisation. 

Questions and answers

Question President Mbeki, are you and your Facilitation team involved with talks with Zimbabwean parties about the way forward following the elections and how do you see this process unfolding?

Answer (President Mbeki) Maybe you should have started by asking whether we discussed the matter.

Yes off course, naturally, the DRC and South Africa are both members of SADC and naturally we did indeed discuss the issue.

Now, let me say: you know that in March 2007 SADC asked South Africa to facilitate discussions between the Zanu-PF, the government of South Africa and the MDC on political questions which happened, again, as you know.

Those discussions produced a whole set of agreements affecting the legislation, constitution, institutions and all of that and the general determination that was expressed by the Zimbabwean parties and ourselves was that one of the outcomes that we must aim to achieve would be elections this year, those that have just been concluded, with results that would not be contested.  I think you are familiar with that.

So, as off now, at least the last time I received a report, which was a few hours ago, the overwhelming majority of results with regard to the House of Assembly had been announced and fortunately, what we had intended in the course of negotiations that I have just indicated, there has not been any contest.  No queries have been raised by any of the parties about the results that have been announced.

So we have to await the announcement of the results, unless it was announced while we have been meeting here, of the Senate, the municipal elections and off course, the Presidential elections.

We would continue to hope that again, with regard to those, we will achieve this outcome of nobody contesting the results as would be announced by the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission.

You know that Morgan Tsvangirai, well not him, Secretary-General of the MDC announced yesterday that from their own calculations they believe that Morgan Tsvangirai has won the Presidential elections and gave whatever percentages.

However, we all of us, as indeed Morgan Tsvangirai had said, must await the announcement by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission with regard to that matter and again, as I was saying, we would hope that whatever it the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission would announce will again be responded to by the Zimbabwean parties, in a manner in which they have responded to the results as they have been announced up to know with regard to the House of Assembly results.

I had a discussion yesterday with Morgan Tsvangirai who called me to say, firstly to report that he had held his press conference where it was announced that he had won.  He told me that in the event that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission came to a different conclusion, they were quite ready for a second round of elections, a run-off, between the two principle candidates that would have emerged from the electoral process thus far.

So, we await the announcement of the results by the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission and off course, as I was saying, we would hope that everybody would accept those results, as they have accepted the results thus far and that the legal constitutional processes of Zimbabwe would then proceed.  If indeed Morgan Tsvangirai is elected in terms of the electoral law than that would be fine.  If there is to be a run off then that is fine.  So, this is a matter we must await.

Question President Thabo Mbeki, as has been sustained by the regular and sustained efforts, my question pertains to the implementation of these agreements.  Is there a monitoring and assessment commission to assess the implementation?

Answer (President Mbeki) Well we discussed this matter and it is indeed, very important because we have a whole range of commissions and agreements as the Minister of Foreign Affairs has just indicated a very wide range in that regard. 

So, we have agreed that we must pay particular attention to the implementation of that agreement and therefore what will happen is that we will make sure that in both countries there are strong focal points that pay full time attention to the implementation of the agreements.

And secondly, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of both countries, will lead the process of the co-ordination of the work of all of the commissions. 

And thirdly, the next meeting of the BNC will be held in Kinshasa in October.  But before that, no later than three months from now, the Ministers who are members of the BNC will meet to review the work that has been done, the implementation of agreements, what needs to be done to ensure the implementation and report to the Presidents so that the Presidents can intervene in the event that there is the lack of action.

So these are the practical steps we have agreed to follow as this is a very important matter.

Merci (thank you).

Question You just talked of the status of the implementation of the agreements.  There has been a delay due to financial constraints.  Would you be assisting in getting those funds to jumpstart the process?

Answer (President Mbeki) President Kabila has instructed me to answer this question.

I think you would know the financing requirements are different.  Speaking on behalf of both foreign ministers, Minister Dlamini Zuma earlier talked of capacity building and said that capacity building relates to all of the Commissions so that is a common challenge that is being addressed by the BNC as part of the process of strengthening the state machinery in the DRC.

Now you will know then that we have some agreements with regard to capacity building.  For instance, the Ministry of Defence of the DRC working with the South African Ministry of Defence to address all of these issues that relate to security sector reform.  We have been co-operating with the government of the Netherlands with regard to the financing of this co-operation.

So that is a trilateral partnership that has developed and we will pursue.

The EU will co-operate with the Ministries of Health in the DRC and South Africa to assist with financing the various aspects that have to do with health.  So we are going to proceed in this manner.

This is in addition to funds that are generated by our government.  We obviously need additional funds and so, this is work that will be done.

With regard to some of the economic interventions, for instance, the feasibility studies that are required, the preparation of projects with regard to the economic sector.  This is a matter we would discuss with the African Development Bank.  The African Development Bank has a fund for this purpose for project preparation and so on.  So together we will approach the African Development Bank to provide the financing for this.

There is different sorts of financing that is required with regard to investment in particular projects and again, we have agreed that we will pursue public-private partnerships.  This means that once you have done a particular project, we are talking for instance of the need to speed up Inga 3 with regard to the energy matters, once you have concluded the preparations for Inga 3 you can go to the investors – banks, companies and so on, to invest in the project.

So there are different ways and means of financing projects.

So this is the manner in which we will proceed.

In addition to such financing we can generate in our own countries, we will reach out to others.

Question Are you satisfied with the co-operation in the field of defence?

Answer (President Kabila) Am I satisfied with co-operation in the field of defence?  Off course I am, this is a whole process which has until now produced good results and we have a lot of work to undertake – the Goma process – so far everything is going well on the ground.  We will very soon be entering the most important step – mobilisation and integration of forces coming from the Mai-Mai, CNDP and others.  So this is a process that took time.

(President Mbeki) Can I add something to this?  I am glad Belgium Radio is here – with regard to the matter of financing – the Defence Ministries will continue their co-operation with the government of Belgium.  There is an old agreement that after the Congolese elections in 2006 that Belgium would work on the refurbishment of the army base.  So this a project our Defence Ministries will pursue because this is a very important part of the Security Sector Reform.

Merci (thank you).

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

3 April 2008

 

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