Address by President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the signing ceremony of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
24 February 2013
Your Excellency, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma;
Your Excellency, Mr Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations;
Your Excellency, President Museveni, Chairperson of the International Conference of the Great Lakes;
Your Excellency, President Guebuza, Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community;
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government here present;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
We are truly honoured to be among those invited to witness a potential turning point in the history of the DRC and the region.
The signing of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Region is yet another opportunity to comprehensively deal with the complexities facing the DRC and the region.
This Framework in itself does not provide all the answers, it is an instrument that points the Government of the DRC, its immediate neighbours and the international community in a direction that will take this country out of the current morass.
Its success will depend on the commitment and ultimately the concrete actions taken by all the parties to it, to interpret and implement it to its fullest noble intention.
We welcome the inclusion of benchmarks and follow-up mechanisms that will facilitate a common understanding of the actions required by all parties.
This partnership needs to go beyond our cooperation within the context of the envisaged Regional Oversight Mechanism. We need to ensure coherence in our various initiatives all with the same intention – to support the DRC and its neighbours in a process leading to sustained peace and development and the proposal to appoint a United Nations Special Envoy to this end is warmly welcomed.
We hail the commitment of the international community to walk alongside the DRC and its neighours on a path of peace, stability, nation-building, reconciliation, mutual understanding and trust, as well as socio economic development underpinned by political and human freedoms.
A heavy burden of responsibility falls on the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighbours. Theirs is the historic task of freeing the people of the DRC and the region from its tortuous history of conflict and instability, and to introduce a new future offering democracy, peace, stability, progress and prosperity.
Your Excellencies, South Africa is committed to partnering with the government and people of the DRC as they respond to the urgent challenges of development.
We will always be ready to work with them on important challenges such as reconciliation, post conflict reconstruction and development covering such areas as security sector reform, institutional capacity building and economic development.
We welcome the intention to strategically review the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) to strengthen its capacity to support the Government of the DRC to address security challenges and to extend state authority.
South Africa further welcomes the proposal for an Intervention Brigade as a realistic option to bring security to the eastern DRC within the shortest timeframe and hope that the signing of this Framework will hasten the deployment of an appropriate peace enforcement mechanism.
We are convinced that a military deployment presents only a short term solution but that real stability, peace and development requires far- reaching actions from the Government of the DRC and its neighbours.
We believe that only a comprehensive political solution would form the basis of lasting peace in the eastern DRC.
Therefore, all armed groups must cease immediately all forms of violence and other destabilizing activities and release immediately all child soldiers and permanently lay down their arms.
South Africa calls on the African Union and the international community to assist the Government of the DRC in its process of nation-building to create strong institutions of governance across the public service to safeguard the gains of peace.
We call on countries of the region to unreservedly commit themselves to this Framework and to do what is necessary to make it work.
The DRC lies at the very heart of our great continent and we wish that this heart can beat peacefully, diffusing vitality to the benefit of its people and those of the region and indeed of all of Africa.
In conclusion, we are reminded of the words of Patrice Lumumba that;
“we are proud of this struggle amid tears, fire and blood, down to our very hearts, for it was a noble and just struggle and indispensable struggle, of where we are to put an end to the humiliating slavery that had been forced upon us. We are going to ensure that the lands of our fatherland truly profits its children”.
The words of Patrice Lumumba must bear fruit. May the people of the DRC and their neighbours live in peace and harmony!
I thank you.