Speech by Deputy Minister Pahad to the IGD Conference on "Perspectives on the DRC Transitional Government" on 30 May 2005, Burgerspark Hotel, Pretoria

Chairperson
Members of the diplomatic corps
Representatives of MONUC
Delegates from the DRC
South African delegates

I thank the IGD for inviting me to participate in this very important conference. The history of the Congo is a very tragic and sad one. For over three centuries the Congolese have been subjected to slavery, ruthless exploitation of its resources.

After the Berlin Conference the Congo became the private property of King Leopold III. In this period the plundering of the Congo's resources was ruthlessly intensified and a reign of terror was increased, causing millions of dead.

Adam Hoschild in his book "King Leopold's Ghost" brilliantly exposes this.

This was followed by 52 years of brutal and rapacious colonial rule.

The founding of the first democratic Republic of the Congo in 1960 was short lived, with the overthrow of Patrice Lumumba. An action that was supported by many of the major western powers.

The country went through a period of extreme instability and conflicts. Mobuto took over as head of state in 1965 and named the country Zaire.

The plundering and looting continued. Mobuto became an instrument of imperialist tactics during the Cold War and Zaire became a destabilising force in the region.

Any discussion on "Perspectives on the DRC Transitional Government" must be in the context of this reality.

As you are aware, the DRC Transitional Government, which will come to an end with the holding of democratic elections, has been extended by another six months, i.e. December 2005. This follows a request by the DRC Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) to Parliament for postponement in order to allow itself more time to prepare for the elections that were originally scheduled to have taken place in June 2005. This request by the CEI is in accordance with the Global and All-Inclusive Agreement, signed in Pretoria in December 2002, which makes, among others, provision for

- the holding of elections within 24 months of the establishment of a DRC Transitional Government, and
- an extension of the term of the Transitional Government by two terms of six months each, should conditions not be conducive to the holding of elections within the prescribed time.

To reach this stage the road has indeed been long and arduous. In order to give a Perspective on this, one needs to look at the circumstances that led to the establishment of a Transitional Government in the DRC,

- Overthrown of Mobuto by coalition of forces
- Fighting between allies
- The process started with the Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement, signed on 10 July 1999 and which after further negotiations led to the cessation of hostilities between the Governments of the DRC, Angola, Republic of Congo, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe, the Ugandan-backed Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) on 1 August 1999 and, finally, by 50 people representing both factions of the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) on 31 August 1999;
- The OAU mandated the Inter-Congolese Dialogue (ICD), which started in Ethiopia in April 2001 and eventually ended in South Africa in April 2003, as well as
- The continuing role of the international community in the DRC.

Only against a backdrop of the processes that led to the establishment of this Transitional Government in the DRC can one begin to grapple with the enormous challenges of this Government in Transitional, the transitional process itself and indeed a future DRC Government. One should not be lulled into thinking that once democratic elections are held, peace and stability will prevail in the DRC the size of Western Europe. Indeed, while the holding of democratic elections signifies the first step towards democracy and good governance, it will take wholehearted political commitment and huge application of resources from both the DRC leaders and the international community, before the DRC takes its rightful place in the continent and the world.

Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement

Since the outbreak of internal conflict in the DRC in 1997, numerous efforts were made by a variety of countries, leaders and institutions to resolve the situation. The SADC initiative, led by former President Mandela (initiated at the Pretoria Summit on 23 August 1999), and later President Mbeki, resulted in the Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement (LCA) being signed during July and August 1999. This Agreement was then reached a month after President Mbeki tabled key proposals, such as

- the need for direct talks between parties,
- the cessation of hostilities pending an inter-Congolese political arrangement, and
- the withdrawal of foreign troops after the deployment of a peacekeeping operation.
These proposals were later enshrined in the Agreement.

The cease-fire agreement was signed by the Heads of State of the DRC, Republic of Congo, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe and the Minister of Defence of Angola on 10 July 1999. In the months following, this agreement was also signed by the Ugandan-backed Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) on 1 August 1999 and, finally, by 50 people representing both factions of the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) on 31 August 1999.

However, the "Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement" only provided for the cessation of hostilities pending a political settlement among the Congolese themselves. Chapter V of the agreement, which defined the parameters of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue (ICD), called for the official launch of this process of negotiations, which should lead to a 'new political dispensation and national reconciliation in the DRC'. Yet, instead of a 90-day time frame allotted to the Congolese parties to reach agreement, the ICD lasted 3 years.

Furthermore, although the agreement stipulated that foreign troops should withdraw from DRC territory within 180 days after the signing thereof, it was not adhered to and was later extended. It would not be until the signing of separate agreements between the DRC and Rwanda as well as between the DRC and Uganda, in July and September 2002, respectively, that the way was paved for the withdrawal of foreign forces from the Congolese territory.

The signing of the Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement emanated not only from persistent third-party efforts, but also from contextual factors. The accord was brokered at a time when the military situation has reached a stalemate and all the signatories could draw political benefits from certain, yet differing, provisions of the peace accord. All belligerent states secured a regional commitment to deal with their national concerns and the rebels obtained international recognition. The agreement granted the rebels equal status in the forthcoming political negotiations. The signing of the cease-fire agreement did not reflect the general commitment to reach a political settlement to the conflict.

Within such a context, the Inter-Congolese Dialogue took time to materialise and even longer to reach conclusion.

Inter-Congolese Dialogue (ICD)

The objective of the ICD was to establish a transitional administration in the DRC pending the holding of democratic elections. As stipulated in the 'Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement', the ICD aimed at facilitating an agreement among its participants on four (4) issues related to power sharing in the DRC:

- The formation of a new Congolese army,
- The future institutions in the country,
- The organisation of general elections, and
- The interim constitution and institutions that would govern the DRC during the transitional period.

The transitional administration was to be inclusive, i.e. composition should represent the various Congolese stakeholders and it should govern the country based on the principle of consensus. In accordance with this approach, the negotiations were to include the Government of the DRC, the main rebel groups (at the time RCD and MLC), political parties as well as representatives from civil society. All parties were expected to participate with equal status in the talks. The dialogue were to take place under the aegis of a neutral facilitator, who would be responsible for organising the negotiations, consulting parties and conducting discussions.

However, Sir Ketumile Masire, former President of Botswana, was only appointed facilitator on 15 December 1999, two months after the deadline given to participants to conclude talks. Even then, the ICD stalled for another 12 months after Sir Ketumile's appointment.

The Preparatory meeting for the Inter-Congolese Dialogue (ICD) took place in Gaborone in August 2001 and the ICD was officially launched in Addis Ababa in October 2001. These meeting (in Addis Ababa) only lasted five (5) days instead of the proposed forty-five (45) days mainly due to issues of representation. It was then decided that participation in the ICD should broadened to include representatives from,

- the local Mai-Mai militias,
- religious orders,
- traditional chiefs, and
- other groups from the armed and non-armed opposition.

Following an official request by the Facilitator, directly to President Mbeki, for South Africa to host the ICD agreement was reached by all participating groups, to the effect that the ICD would officially resume and that it will be relocated from Addis Ababa to South Africa..

The Sun City phase

South Africa hosted the second phase of the ICD from February until April 2002, which ended in deadlock.

Meanwhile, in July and September 2002 respectively, separate agreements were concluded between the DRC and Rwanda as well as between the DRC and Uganda, which paved the way for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Congolese territory.

The Global and All-Inclusive Agreement

On 17 December 2002, the main Congolese parties to the conflict finally signed the 'Global and All-Inclusive Agreement on the Transition in the DRC' in Pretoria. This agreement reflected an arrangement between the principle role-players as to how to share power at the governmental level during the 24-month transitional period, at the end of which elections should be held.

In brief, President Kabila would remain Head of State (and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces) and would be assisted by 4 Vice-Presidents in charge of governmental commissions, each comprising Ministers and Deputy Ministers.

- A political commission would be chaired by the leader of the RCD-Goma (Azarias Ruberwa),
- An economic and finance commission would be chaired by the leader of the MLC (Jean-Pierre Bemba),
- A reconstruction and development commission would be led by a member of Kabila's government (former Foreign Minister) Abdoulaye Yerodia Ndombasi), and
- A social and cultural commission was to be headed by a representative of the political opposition (Arthur Z'ahidi Ngoma)

In total, the transitional government would include 36 Ministers and 25 Deputy Ministers. In addition, the signatories also agreed on structure and composition of the parliament, which would consist of a national assembly (comprising 500 members and presided over by a MLC representative) and a senate (comprising 120 members and presided over by civil society). Civil society would also head the 5 independent institutions 'in support of democracy' whose establishment was decided at Sun City, including the independent electoral commission.

Importantly, this Agreement, like previous ones, was achieved only after protracted negotiations and intense international pressure by specifically the UN, South Africa and the EU.

This agreement, however, failed to address at least 3 important outstanding issues, namely

- the disarmament and integration of the armed forces into a united national army,
- the personal security of transitional government leaders, and
- the interim constitution for the transitional period

To resolve these pending issues, technical committees were reconvened in Pretoria in February 2003 and delegates approved 3 additional documents. These were,

- a MoU regarding the mechanism for the establishment of a restructured and integrated national army.
(However, it was not until June 2003 that agreement was reached in Kinshasa on the sharing of military responsibilities during the transitional period. President Kabila would nominate the armed forces chief of staff and the head of the navy, while RCD-Goma and MLC would head the ground forces and the airforce, respectively).
- a MoU regarding the security provisions during the transition. The international community was approached to protect the transitional institutions and ensure security in Kinshasa- a task that that MONUC would assume.
- a Transitional Constitution.

The signing of agreements on the outstanding issues paved the way for the final session of the ICD, held at Sun City on 1-2 April 2003, during which the Final Act was signed, endorsing all agreements approved until then.

DRC Transitional Government

Which was eventually established in May 2003. Five institutions in support of democracy - The Independent Electoral Commission, Higher Media Authority, The Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, The Commission for Ethics and Struggle against Corruption, and The National Observatory for Human Rights, were officially inaugurated on 28 August 2003. In May 2004, President Joseph Kabila announced his roadmap of actions to be taken by the Transitional Government to take the country to elections on the date agreed upon.

According to this roadmap, the President committed himself to the promulgation of the following laws, among others, from April to December 2004, - Defence and Security; Organic laws of the five institutions to support democracy; Census; Referendum, and Prerequisites on the recognition acquisition, loss and recovery of Congolese citizenship. He also undertook to appoint managers for state companies; diplomats and territorial administrators; DDR Supervisor, CONADER supervisor and members of the military structure of integration, and for the CEI to begin its functions.

Although it took time before the Tansitional Government assumed some management function it did importantly, passed the law on nationality in September 2004 and legislation to regulate the elections in December 2004, which would enable the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) to launch the process of the organisation of elections. On 15 May 2004, President Mbeki travelled to the DRC at the invitation of President Kabila, to attend the inauguration of DRC Constitution which was to take place on 16 May 2005. The adoption of the Constitution paves the way for the adoption of electoral laws. It is envisaged that a national Constitutional referendum will be held in November 2005, after the completion of voters' registration, scheduled to commence in June 2005.

The principles of the Draft Constitution provide for a form of state in which there is a unitary and federal synthesis. Twenty five provinces are provided for, permitting provincial administrative autonomy. An elected President will be limited to two five-year terms in office, assisted by a Prime Minister, who will manage the functioning of the government. The President may only take certain decisions after consulting with the Prime Minister and with Parliament. The legislative power of Parliament permits the governing authorities to be censored, and ensures stronger discipline of the government. The Judiciary will maintain complete independence and will consist of a Judicial Court, an Administrative Court, and a Constitutional Court. Opposition from political parties is legally permitted. The equality of men and women in the exercise of state power is enshrined. Violence, including sexual exploitation, against women and children is legally forbidden.

President Mbeki's visit

During his visit President Mbeki took the opportunity to discuss the state of preparation for the general presidential and parliamentary elections, and the issue of their postponement. For this purpose, the President undertook to meet various role-players in the transition process, including Vice-Presidents Yerodia Ndombasi, Zahidi Ngoma, and Azarias Ruberwa; Archbishop Monsengwo; Speaker of the National Assembly, Olivier Kamitatu; Mbusa Nyamwisi, of RCD-K-ML, Roger Lumbala, representatives of Mai-Mai; representatives of civil society; Archbishop Mosengwo and a group of Congolese women. The Congolese interlocutor expressed their support for the holding of elections within the time-frame accorded by the Transitional Constitution and agreed to a postponement thereof. Concerns were expressed about the pace of integration of the armed forces in the DRC. They were also concerned with the lack of adequate communication between the government and the Congolese people regarding the transitional process and the preparations for elections. They wanted a definite time frame for the postponed elections.

President Mbeki stressed that absolute clarity must be attained regarding the preparation required for elections, so that the people may become aware of the challenges derived from electoral preparations and the timetable required to complete the process. The South African police are working closely with the Congolese police forces to ensure security and to assist with the integration of police forces in the DRC. The President reiterated that the South African government is committed to assisting the DRC in its reconstruction and development objectives.

The importance of continuous engagement with both the DRC leadership and civil society in order to bridge the divide between the Congolese and to get an idea of the political climate in in the country cannot be overemphasised. More importantly, as indicated previously, the negotiated agreements that laid the groundwork for the establishment of a Transitional Government in the DRC, was achieved mainly through third- party involvement and not un-mediated dialogue between between partners. The lack of dialogue between parties in the DRC has proved to be a major hurdle in the transitional process.

Since its establishment, the DRC Transitional Government has been characterised by a lack of trust and co-operation among its participants, a failure to address the root causes of instability and conflict and lack of progress with the integration of the Armed Forces. A major problem for the Transitional Government is the continued violence in the eastern DRC and its inability to extend its power over the entire DRC region.

Security Sector reform

The Reform of the DRC Security Sector is a major concern in the run up to the elections and primordial loyalties by armed factions serve as an impediment to the extension of state authority/sovereignty over the entire country. A unified Congolese Defence Force, free from foreign influence, can play a major role in the disarmament process of armed groups and militias, and in bringing about internal peace and security in the run-up to elections. Parallel chains of command persist in the army. Many stand to lose power in the elections and are therefore attempting to prolong and disrupt the transitional process. Political weakness at the centre has allowed military conflicts to fester on the periphery.

An important development to deal with the volatile situation was the announcement by the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), on 31 March 2005, that they would unconditionally abandon the armed struggle and return to Rwanda, and following the passing of MONUC's deadline (1 April 2005) for more than 15 000 militia to surrender their weapons to MONUC and DRC government forces (FARDC), approximately 12 000 former militias have entered the disarmament and reintegration process.

Many ex-militias have chosen to reintegrate in the communities, rather than military integration.

MONUC is also concerned that while arms have been handed over, the militias have not provided full disclosure and the presence of heavy artillery in eastern DRC. This could result in further conflict should the reintegration process not be properly handled.

Furthermore, the causes of conflict between remaining militia groups appear to have changed from rival militia clashes along ethnic lines or clashes for reasons of financial gain, to that of neutralising the common threat, namely, the 'new' DRC Armed Forces (FARDC) and MONUC.

Rwanda

Regionally, the DRC has had uneasy relations with Rwanda and this deteriorated when President Kabila publicly claimed in May 2004, that Rwanda was responsible for the events in east of the DRC, which led to the fall of Bukavu into rebel hands. Following these and related incidents indicating that the transitional process was in danger of collapsing.

Efforts to promote peace between the DRC and its neighbours received yet another major blow after the massacre of an estimated l60 Congolese Tutsi (Banyamulenge) in a refugee camp in Gatumba, Burundi on 13 August 2004. Rwanda threatened to re-enter the DRC and hunt down the ex- FAR/ Interahamwe that are held responsible for the latest killings. The incident also led to an announcement by the RCD of its suspension from participation in the transitional process and institutions. President Mbeki undertook a visit to the DRC at the end of August 2004 at time when serious crisis had developed as result of the Gatumba incident . As a result of President Mbeki's direct intervention the leaders of the Transitional Government recommitted themselves to the transitional process. A special appeal was also made to South Africa to assist the DRC organise elections. In this regard, relevant South African Departments and the IEC visited the DRC prior to the President's visit to engage their counterparts on a series of issues pertaining to general cooperation and the transition, including elections.

South Africa's assistance

In order to carry forward South Africa's assistance to the DRC, the involvement of key Departments and institutions is critical during the transitional period and following consultations with the DRC counterparts, most of the departments have deployed personnel to that country to follow through with commitments made by South Africa. South Africa has offered assistance inter alia in the fields of election preparation (IEC), voter identification (Home Affairs), Police Training (SAPS), institutional capacity building (DPLG), public service census and the establishment of an anti-corruption framework (DPSA) and Integration of the Armed Forces (SANDF).

Financial assistance towards South Africa's efforts in the DRC remains a challenge that must be urgently addressed, if South Africa is to realise its objective of assisting the DRC achieve successful reconstruction and development. South Africa has made an initial contribution of +- R25 million, which it secured through the African Renaissance Fund to kickstart South African Governmental support in the DRC transitional process.

Conclusion

- The DRC has embarked on an irreversible transitional process, albeit at a slower pace than required or anticipated. All political leaders and their respective military forces have something gain from a successful transition. They basically have a choice between being left isolated and marginalised by the transition, barely in control of decreasing pieces of territory, or become part of legitimate Government structures.

- There is unprecedented international commitment, which has been demonstrated through continued engagement by the UN, African and western countries with the DRC Transitional Government and other actors in the region, notably Rwanda and Uganda.

- The DRC's transitional government has acknowledged mistakes made thus far during the transitional period and has realised the need for rectification thereof.

- It is envisaged that general elections will take place be 31 December 2005, failing which a second 6-month postponement may be requested. South Africa is actively assisting in the required logistical preparations.

- We are at a historical moment and the Congolese people must seize the opportunity. South Afrca is confident that in the absence of the Cold War and outside interference the Congolese people will take their destiny into their own hands and ensure that the enormous resources are used in the interest of the Congolese people.

Much progress has been made but there are many challenges and obsacles.

A properous and peaceful DRC will contribute to ensure that the 21st century is truly an African century.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
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