Remarks by Deputy Minister Pahad and DRC Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Mbusa Nyamwisi at the Opening of the Fifth Ministerial Session of the RSA/DRC Bi-National Commission held at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria, 02 April 2008

Good afternoon. Co-Chairperson Mr 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,  

Senior Officials from our respective Governments,

It is indeed a pleasure and an honour to welcome all you to the fifth BiNational Commission (BNC) between our two countries.

At the outset let me apologise for the absence of Dr Dlamini Zuma, the Foreign Minister of South Africa. She is presently in Sudan as part of the African Union delegation. It is expected that she will join us tomorrow.

Dear colleagues, in the next two days we have an opportunity to collectively take stock of what has been achieved in implementing the bilateral commitments made at the Fourth Session of the RSA/DRC BNC that took place in August 2007 in Kinshasa.

As we begin let me once again recall what Patrice Lumumba, the first Prime Minster of an independent Congo who, in his famous 30 June 1960 Independence Day speech, said:

The Republic of the Congo has been proclaimed, and our country is now in the hands of its own children.

Together, my brothers, my sisters, we are going to begin a new struggle, a sublime struggle, which will lead our country to peace, prosperity, and greatness….

Thus, in the interior and the exterior, the new Congo, our dear Republic that my government will create, will be rich, free, and prosperous country.”

Sadly as we all know Counter-revolution prevented this vision from being realised.  Today, nearly 48 years later, our engagement in the DRC is part of our broad foreign policy objectives of achieving Lumumba’s vision and of the consolidation of the African Agenda. The South African Government totally committed in its support for the DRC Government to seek lasting peace and stability in the DRC which we believe is a pre-requisite for the betterment of the lives of the peoples of the Congo, the Great Lakes, Southern Africa and, indeed, for the rest of the African continent. In this regard, I can without fear of contradiction say that the DRC can count on the unwavering support of the SADC and of Africa. 

Colleagues

As you are aware the RSA/DRC BNC, is a framework for the formalisation of agreements in areas of critical co-operation for the mutual benefit of our respective countries.  The BNC’s activities encompassed areas of election support, security sector reform (SSR) covering integration of the armed forces and reform of the Congolese Police (PNC), as well as the post-conflict reconstruction and development process (PCRD).  Critical milestones, reported in the Fourth Session of the BNC, have been covered in respect of election support and SSR. Beyond the 2006 historic Presidential and Parliamentary elections in the DRC, focus is increasingly on the PCRD process.

It is within this context that key priority sectors were identified by the DRC Government and subsequently adopted by our two Presidents as critical areas of co-operation on which the BNC, as you know, needs to focus on.  These are:  infrastructure, employment, education, water, electricity and health. It is on these critical sectors that successes achieved were reported and further commitments were made in the last BNC in Kinshasa. It is also on these sectors that we have witnessed phenomenal growth of participating government departments in the four sub-commissions of the BNC, to include more departments which were initially not part of this process. Today we have more than 27 Agreements and MOUs signed. It is important that this Fifth Session we critically look at these agreements and MOUs and critically evaluate what achievements we have made since the Fourth Session.

As you know, since the last BNC, additional projects have been established and substantial resources have been sought for there implementation. Efforts have also been made to include other departments of which the competence is critical for the challenging task of post-conflict reconstruction.  It is partly due to complexities around resource mobilisation, that some of the Agreements signed have not been implemented effectively. It is therefore important upon us to rectify this situation.  Apart from the successes which we are expected to report on and consolidate, the foregoing are some of the critical challenges our senior officials have deliberated about in the last two days and on which we must recommend possible solutions to our Presidents tomorrow.  It is clear to all of us, the road ahead is still a long one indeed, but, I’m sure I reflect the views of all of us when I say that we do believe that our work will be crowned with success.

As we meet today we must recall that in 2006 the Congolese people shaped their own destiny through successful presidential and parliamentary elections.  This was indeed a landmark occasion in four decades which ushered in a new and exciting era in the history of the DRC.

The importance of strong, peaceful and prosperous DRC for the future of our two countries, for the future of SADC and the future of the African continent can not be over emphasised.

At the fourth session, we interalia, identified that a precondition of the DRC’s reconstruction and development is the restoration of security in the East, the completion of the military integration programmes and consolidation of control over the government’s area of jurisdiction in the country.

It is good to note that since our last meeting a Round Table peace conference was held in Goma, in the Eastern DRC from 6th to 24 January 2008.

The Engagement Act, signed on 24 January 2008 I believe provides an historic opportunity for the Government, the local movements and civil society to cement peace and development in the region. I hope that during this session we will get an assessment of progress being made and problems experienced in implementing the Engagement Act.

The South African government is conscious that there are elements in the DRC and the region who continue to try and destabilise the DRC.  We are therefore happy to report that as non-permanent members of the Security Council, we made an important contribution to the Security Council Resolution 1804 (2008) of 13 March 2008, which interalia, stated:

Gravely concerned that the continued presence of armed groups and militias in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo perpetuated a climate of insecurity in the whole region, the Security Council demanded today that their members immediately lay down their arms and turn themselves in to Congolese and United Nations Mission authorities for disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration.

It is important that this Security Council  Resolution also recalls that the targeted sanctions including a travel ban and an asset freeze that has been imposed in particular to political and military leaders of armed groups operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who impede the disarmament and the voluntary repatriation or resettlement of combatants belonging to those groups, and stresses that those measures are applicable to leaders of the FDLR, ex-FAR/Interahamwe and other Rwandan armed groups who have been identified and, as indicated, that new measures will be taken to ensure that these groups do follow Security Council Resolutions or face more sanctions and other pressures.

So it is an important development, I believe, that the Security Council has taken through this resolution which should enable us, as we discuss our future cooperation, to understand how we can use the Security Council Resolution to effectively create better climates for the implementation of the work that we are doing.

Colleagues
It is quiet clear however successful our bilateral relations are, it can not be sustained unless it is developed within the framework of the African agenda. It is quiet clear that our two countries cannot be islands of prosperity in a sea of conflict and impoverishment.
And so as we meet it is important that we give consideration to some important African developments:

  • Globalisation is going on unprecedented with all the uneven development;
  • Clearly most of us in Africa will not meet the MDG’s;
  • Today we anxiously still await the results from the Zimbabwean elections
  • The Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan is also going under sever strains;
  • The inability to fully implement the Hybrid UN-AU force in Darfur is also continuing to be a cause of concern;
  • In Burundi we still cannot get the full complete peace and stability as we envisaged over a year ago;
  • And indeed Somalia continues to be an area of sever conflict.

So as we discuss in all our working groups you must begin to understand that all that we discussed cannot be seen in the isolation of this broad African agenda that I have just broadly referred to.

Also we are both members of SADC and we have to look at how our institution, SADC, is being operationalised, especially in its agenda of regional integration. And again in the African Union, with the new leadership and all the challenges we face, as two members of the AU, how together and through SADC, we make the AU more effective. The debate about the AU government is growing in intensity. It is our belief that this must be an opportunity for us to discuss our perspective re: the African government and how we influence the direction that Africa will take in the coming few months. So to effectively, comprehensively and holistically meet Africa’s challenges and that include our challenges in South Africa and the DRC.

April Security Council Session

On 16 and 17 April 2008, South Africa, as the President of the Security Council in April will convene a debate at the level of Heads of State and Government with the aim to adopt concrete measures on strengthening the relationship between the United Nations Security Council and the PSC of the African Union.

The High-Level Debate

Invitations have been extended to Heads of State and Government of those countries i) that currently serve on the UNSC, ii) that are members of the AU Peace and Security Council and iii) African countries that are on the agenda of the UNSC. As you know most of the issues on the UNSC agenda are African issues and the DRC is a very important issue on the UNSC agenda.

I believe this high level debate will offer an opportunity to address, amongst others, the following issues which you must take into consideration as we meet in the next two days:

  • The complex nature of some current conflicts and post conflict reconstruction and development and the need to respond timeously to threats to peace, taking into account factors such as the capacity and, at times, the limitations of regional organisations.
  • Resolution of conflicts that require a strengthened international peace and security architecture, underpinned by an enhanced relationship between the United Nations, in particular the Security Council, and the AU.
  • Continual review on how best to maximise the relationship between the UN and the AU.
  • The high level debate and the Security Council will exchange views on ways to secure predictable, sustainable and flexible resources for Regional Organisations, in particular the African Union, to carry out the mandates of maintaining international peace and security and ensuring post conflict reconstruction.

I believe this is a very important session and which must help us to lay a stronger foundation to help us to deal with Africa’s challenges.  Our two countries must co-operate to make it a success.  Many of the issues I have mentioned will be discussed in the breakaway sessions.

I hope that we will have great success in the deliberations so that tomorrow we can table to our Presidents a report we all can be proud of; a report that will be positive as well as a report that will identify the many challenges we will have to meet both in our bilateral relations but also in the context of the African agenda.

I wish you great success in your deliberations and I thank you.

REMARKS BY DRC MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATION MBUSA NYAMWISI

(Inaudible) On this opening of the Fifth Session of the BNC between the DRC and the sister RSA, allow me to first of all to thank, on behalf of the Congolese government; on behalf of the people of the DRC and my own behalf, the government and the people of South Africa for the warm welcome given to us; and all niceties given to us ever since we reached South Africa, which now we are very accustomed to.

As you know the BNC is a good framework for bilateral cooperation, which brings us together in this Fifth Session in Pretoria. This was (inaudible) in January 13 2004 and since then cooperation relations have been strengthened and several sectoral agreements have been signed in several areas.

At the end of the Fourth Session deliberations in Kinshasa 16-21 August 2007 we noted that out of the 27 agreements a little number was implemented. In this regard a number of recommendations were made as to bring solutions.

Eight months after the Kinshasa meeting we are here meeting in Pretoria to assess the implementation of the recommendations made in the framework of agreements that I have just talked about to which we can add new agreements bringing the total to 31.

For the DRC, we believe that these deliberations will have to focus on searching for ways and means that would help to effectively implement all agreements signed in general and in particular those fitting within the struggle which the two countries are waging for development and well-being of our respective populations. In other words we will have to identify the funding sources of our projects and identify the required strategies for mobilising resources.

The areas targeted are Education, Health, Water, Energy, Employment and infrastructure.

Our Heads of State Mr Thabo Mbeki and Mr Kabila have committed themselves to (inaudible) this cooperation and they expect a lot from our deliberations. We are invited to critically look into the work of experts so as to formulate the appropriate recommendations to be submitted to our Heads of State.

Your Excellencies; ladies and gentlemen; ministers; senior civil servants, I thank you for your attention. God bless our deliberations. Thank you.

Issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

02 APRIL 2008

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