Opening Remarks by President JG Zuma, on the occasion of the 10th Session of the Bi-National Commission with the DRC, held in Pretoria, 25 June 2017

Your Excellency, President Joseph Kabila Kabange;
Honourable Ministers from our two countries;
Your Excellencies, our respective Ambassadors;
Senior Government officials;
Members of the media;

I am delighted and honoured to welcome you, Mr President, and your esteemed delegation. Considering the strong and close collaboration between our two countries, it is always a pleasure to receive and meet with our brothers and sisters from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Your Excellency,

You will recall that we have been working together for the past twenty years. This year, 2017, our Bi-National Commission is turning thirteen, making it one of the oldest Bi-National Commissions South Africa has with any country. That today we are holding its 10th Session speaks volumes about our collective commitment to forge strategic cooperation and partnership.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have used the BNC mechanism to identify critical areas of cooperation. The first decade of our BNC was largely consumed by efforts in assisting the DRC in areas of institutional capacity building.

This included the training of the DRC national army, police, diplomats; providing technical electoral support; as well as conducting the important public service census.

Your Excellency,

It is clear to us that we have made substantial progress over the years. The DRC of 2017 is different from that of 2004 when we started our collaboration within the context of the BNC.

The DRC is now politically stable and the security situation has improved. Where there are still challenges, the Government of the DRC, with the assistance of the region, continent and international community, is addressing those. In this regard, we encourage you, Mr President, and your Government to continue on this path.

Mr President,

We gather here at a time when your country is going through a political transition following the December 2016 Political Agreement. This Agreement charted a process that should lead to the next elections. .

We congratulate you, Mr President, on the progress achieved thus far and the manner with which you have handled the process.

The people of the DRC need to determine and decide their internal political future. The best way to do so is through negotiations and dialogue. The people of the DRC have proven in the past their ability to dialogue.

We wish to reiterate that Dialogue and not conflict is the best way to resolve problems.

In this regard, we wish to assure you of our continued solidarity and support.

Mr President,  

The meeting of the BNC today provides us with the opportunity to review and assess progress in the implementation of identified projects.

I trust that the report from the Ministers will set the tone for closer cooperation and signal a strategic approach to address the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality in our respective countries and our region.  

To adequately respond to these triple challenges, we need to strengthen our economic cooperation by increasing trade and investment between our two countries and by enhancing business and people to people cooperation. Guided by the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and AU Agenda 2063, we should be able to consolidate our work and that of the region. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

Among the projects that should be pursued with great vigour is the Grand Inga Hydro Power project. We also need to continue to prioritise cooperation in such critical areas as defence and security, infrastructure, energy, agriculture, trade and investment, mining, health and capacity building, to mention but a few.

I am convinced Mr President that our interaction today will present us with an opportunity to refocus and reprioritise our cooperation for the mutual benefit of our two countries.

Allow me therefore to renew our warm greetings and welcome to you and your esteemed delegation. We hope that you will enjoy your short stay in our country.

I look forward to the report of the Ministers which I hope will help us to consolidate and deepen strategic partnership.

I thank you.

Issued by The Presidency





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