Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the UN Security Council Meeting on the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, New York, 18 March 2019
At the outset let me join others in thanking the Special Representative and Head of the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), Ms Leila Zerrougui, as well as Ms Anny Tenga Modi of the civil society organization AFIA MAMA.
South Africa welcomes the peaceful holding of the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We congratulate the millions of Congolese people who went to the polls. True to his promise not to hold onto power, former President Joseph Kabila, peacefully transferred power to opposition party leader President Tshisekedi. We commend this young leader’s positive legacy in the Central African region. We encourage the Congolese people and political actors to continue with their peaceful conduct during the local government elections and to approach these elections with the same spirit as they did in the Presidential and legislative elections. We further encourage reconciliation in the post-election period to build a peaceful DRC. We commend the opening up of political space by President Tshisekedi, marked by peaceful demonstrations, and access to media.
South Africa welcomes the important role played by national, as well as the regional, observation missions of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union. In this regard, South Africa calls for a greater focus on the situation in the Eastern DRC, while acknowledging the importance of addressing the inter-communal violence in provinces such as Mai-Ndombe and Kasai.
Therefore, we support the UN Secretary-General’s call for MONUSCO’s adjustment to redirect the priorities of the Mission to the Eastern DRC where instability and violence remain prevalent.
South Africa supports the UN Secretary-General’s recommendation for a twelve-month extension of the mandate of MONUSCO. This will enable adequate time for a more comprehensive review of MONUSCO in full consultation with the DRC government as well as SADC and all relevant stakeholders. It is in this regard that South Africa would like to emphasize consideration of a twelve-month mandate renewal taking into cognizance that there is a newly appointed Government. As such South Africa believes that the new Government should be given time to determine and outline its priorities prior to the drawdown of MONUSCO whilst mitigating a security vacuum.
The South African delegation thus further supports the Secretary-General’s proposed strategic review of MONUSCO. Furthermore, any consideration of an exit strategy should be based on the positive evolution and evaluation of the security situation on the ground. South Africa therefore calls on strengthening of the multidimensional nature of MONUSCO in order to address the challenges of peace, security, governance and development in a concurrent manner based on the understanding of the nexus between peace and development.
South Africa welcomes the contribution made by all Troop Contributing Countries in the DRC and we further call on all TCCs to make a concerted effort to increase the composition of women peacekeepers in MONUSCO to address these and other challenges.
South Africa welcomes the positive developments in the Kasai region with the laying down of arms by armed groups. As such we encourage other regions to do the same.
South Africa reaffirms the importance of fully supporting the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) in collaboration with the FARDC in order to neutralize belligerent groups such as the FDLR, the ADF, and other armed groups which continue to threaten the stability of the entire region. We commend the complementary support provided by FIB in the containment of the ebola outbreak.
South Africa emphasizes that it is of utmost importance to uphold and implement the Protection of Civilians mandate, which should be conducted without any hindrance and in a manner that strengthens the trust between the people of the DRC, the Government and MONUSCO.
Ultimately, South Africa sees the protection of civilians in the DRC as dependent on the broader stabilization of the country. In this regard we call for a more proactive approach through mechanisms such as the International Security and Stabilization Support Strategy (ISSSS) in order to fulfil and implement the broader Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region (PSC Framework).
As such South Africa calls on the Security Council to reaffirm calls for all signatories to the PSC Framework to implement their commitments under the Framework to ensure long term, sustainable peace and stability in the DRC.
South Africa also emphasizes the need for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration strategies and support to be provided by MONUSCO to take into account the socio-economic environment and economic prospects of demobilized individuals. We would like to reiterate our call that support be provided in the form of skills development to demobilized individuals in order to facilitate reintegration, and economic development in their communities.
South Africa continues to support a zero-tolerance policy against sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA). In this regard, South Africa has institutionalized in its legislation this zero-tolerance policy on SEA. In this regard, necessary support and mechanisms should be established to support victims of SEA and to enable the reporting of such incidents.
South Africa encourages all those countries and partners that have economic interests in the DRC to ensure that the natural resources are used for the development and to benefit the Congolese people.
I thank you.
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