International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has pledged South Africa’s support to government leaders of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as the central African country is going through its “political transition”.
There were no signs that South Africa was planning to pressure the country into holding the elections that would mark the end of President Joseph Kabila’s final term in office and that were due in December already.
Instead, Nkoana-Mashabane at the opening of the Bi-National Council between the two countries on Saturday likened the pressure on the DRC to organise timely elections to that placed on the ANC ahead of its elective conference in December.
She said the meeting between the ministers of the two countries, ahead of a meeting between the two presidents on Sunday, came “at a time when your country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, is in the midst of a political transition and is faced with a lot of determined external pressure. It’s a given. Even here – we are not facing an election, the elections are in 2019 – but because the ruling party is going to its national conference, there is a lot of interest from overseas about (sic) us and just internally, what we are doing in the party, and they think we need to be assisted also.
“So the pressure you feel, you are not alone in it,” she said. “The true solutions would be made in the DRC, found by the people of the DRC. All we can do is to support you as you go through this current political transition.”
Nkoana-Mashabane also said some people would come to the DRC or South Africa from overseas and “say we are coming to help you talk” and then stay indefinitely.
“They will leave when they think they’ve finished making you talk, and then you’ll have a problem which you think you have when you say some people must go home but they say they’re still helping.”
It is unclear whether Nkoana-Mashabane was referring to a specific grouping of people in the DRC, or just in general.
She recalled South Africa helping the DRC find peace in its civil war at the turn of the century, and going to elections in 2006. Like South Africa, “the Democratic Republic of Congo is a young democracy that still needs to be nurtured, so a lot of talk, talk, talk is necessary”.
She said even at aged 23 and as a free nation, South Africa still did a lot of talking.
Nkoana-Mashabane also recalled all the areas where South Africa has assisted the DRC, such as training of the armed forces, police services, diplomats, and the provision of electoral support.