Statement by South Africa to the United Nations Security Council on the Situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 11 January 2019
We would like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Ms Leila Zerrougui, for her briefing. We welcome and thank CENI, SADC and the African Union of their assessment of the electoral process. We also take note of the briefing by the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO) on their observations of the elections.
This Council’s involvement in the DRC has been one of its most protracted, heavily invested and multi-phased involvements in the history of the United Nations Organisation. Today, we meet at one of the most critical junctures of the DRC’s process of consolidating democracy.
South Africa welcomes the announcement of the provisional election results and we commend CENI on its hard work under arduous circumstances. We further congratulate CENI for managing the electoral process. CENI is the official, legitimate authority mandated to manage and conduct the elections. CENI is the delegated authoritative body to pronounce on election outcomes and must be accorded the right to do so.
It remains imperative that CENI’s actions and declarations should be respected by all, including on the outcome of the elections.
South Africa calls on all parties to preserve the generally peaceful climate of the elections, and take-up any reservations or disputes through the proper mechanisms and processes provided for in the constitution of the DRC and its electoral laws, and thus refrain from any violence or incitement thereof.
We must ensure that as Members of the Security Council, our words and actions should contribute positively to the aspirations and collective will of the people of the DRC.
Congo is rich. But Congolese are poor.
South Africa remains concerned with the continuous illicit exploitation of DRC’s natural resources.
Since its independence, the DRC has been subjected to interference by external factors in determining its future. The abundant resources that the country is blessed with have in many ways led to the scramble for these resources to the detriment of its people.
In the DRC, where parts of the economy are informal and sometimes illicit links between politics and illicit economic activities have existed for a long time. An estimated value of illicit natural resources exploitation in eastern DRC is valued at over USD 1.25 billion per year.
South Africa has been keenly supportive of the efforts to ensure peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of Congo In 1998, our late President Nelson Mandela hosted a historic meeting between former leaders of Zaire/DRC, Mabuto Seseseko and Laurant Kabila off the cost of DRC an averted a potentially destructive civil war. In 2002 South Africa hosted the ground breaking Inter-Congolese Dialogue that led to drafting of the Constitution and hosting of the first ever inclusive multiparty democratic elections in that country.
President Ramaphosa yesterday issued a statement in which he congratulated all parties and stakeholders in the DRC for ensuring peace and stability during the election process and urged all regional, international and the interested parties to refrain from speculation and allow CENI to complete the process. The President also urged all political parties and their supporters to allow CENI to perform its legal and constitutional duties without interference and pressure.
We expect this Council to be at the forefront of the provision of support to the Congolese authorities to maintain a peaceful and stable environment following these landmark elections, and to discourage any violence following the conclusion of the electoral process. This is necessary in order to facilitate the historic outcome of the first ever democratic transfer of power in the DRC.
South Africa welcomes the reports of the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative, as well as that of the SADC’s Election Observer Mission and the Election Observer Mission of the African Union, and welcome their continued commitment to assist the DRC to achieve sustainable peace, security and stability.
The continued support and partnership of the United Nations, the African Union, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and other regional and international actors, is necessary for the consolidation of peace, stability and development in the DRC.
MONUSCO played an important role in creating relative climate of peace for conducting of elections in some difficult regions of the DRC. Provision of timely logistical support assisted in containing the spread of Ebola in parts of the Eastern DRC. The Force Intervention Brigade [FIB], part of MONUSCO Force consisting of Brigades from South Africa, Malawi and Tanzania has successfully neutralized the threat post by negative and belligerent armed grouping in the Eastern DRC.
South Africa calls for greater inclusion of women peacekeepers, and an increase in the civilian component of MONUSCO, augmenting the role of women mediators to deal with conflict mediation at the communal level in the DRC. We recall the role that women played at the inter-Congolese dialogue in South Africa.
Mr President, we will like to pause and pay tribute, to men and women who paid dearly and made supreme sacrifice in carrying out their internationalist duty on behalf of us all, and also protecting ordinary Congolese people.
As the international community we should not lose sight of the importance of addressing the peace and security challenges that exist in the DRC, which preceded the election process.
Addressing the root causes of conflict in the DRC requires the recognition of the nexus between development and peace.
In this regard, South Africa emphasizes the need for post-election support in the context of peacebuilding and for the UN Security Council to mobilize the Peace Building Commission to provide the necessary support for the broader Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region. The PSC Framework is the most holistic peace mechanism for the DRC and is guaranteed by the United Nations, the African Union, the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region, and the Southern African Development Community, and has been signed by the DRC and countries of the region.
The DRC has come a long way in its quest for peace and security. The elections that have just taken place will be the first democratic transfer of power in the country’s history. The commitment of the Congolese people to this process should be commended. We therefore call on the international community and this Council in particular, to continue to support this process with a balanced and measured approach. The road ahead may be difficult and long, but the journey to a long term stability, peace and happiness of Congolese people has begun. As the Council, let’s accompany them.
I thank you.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
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