By Mpho Tebele
Gaborone - Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi recently criticised the international community for failing the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has plunged into political crisis.
Masisi made the observation while speaking on a live broadcast that was aired by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London on the sidelines of a Commonwealth meeting.
Masisi observed that the world has “failed the DRC, in appreciating the value we can get from them and the value they can also get from their country”.
According to Masisi, “The DRC is potentially the richest country in Africa and arguably one of the richest in the world.”
He reiterated that he believes “the world has failed the DRC”.
Falling short of stating that Africa can solve its own problems without seeking assistance from the international community, Masisi said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was ready to address challenges in the DRC head-on.
“What can be done is that, we in Africa, particularly southern Africa, can find a solution to the problem facing the DRC. While in Angola, I saw a president who has been in office for six months. We talked about the DRC because he is chairman of the organ on security in SADC,” said Masisi.
Masisi said SADC Heads of State and Government met on April 17-18 in Luanda, Angola, for the Double Troika Summit to discuss security in the region at the instance of Angola President João Lourenço, who chairs the bloc’s troika.
“He (Lourenço) told me that he called a troika meeting to deal with the DRC. Tensions are mounting in the DRC. The president there has stayed in power longer than expected and there is agitation,” said Masisi.
Masisi noted that the DRC President Joseph Kabila has announced that he is not standing for re-election in Congo’s long-overdue presidential poll, adding that the latter had already been in power longer than expected.
Therefore, Masisi requested Kabila to respect the rule of law by organising elections and stepping down from power in the DRC.
“It’s encouraging that President Kabila said that he is not standing in the upcoming general elections. But we want to hear that from him that he is not coming back. Hopefully, we can get from (Kabila) a real commitment to not attempt to come back to power by whatever means,” said Masisi.
Masisi observed that “part of the underlying instability in the DRC is that those who harvest resources are doing that outside the rule of law. Those who are doing that should do that within the purview of the law”.
Meanwhile, the SADC Secretariat has announced that April 16, 2018, the government of the DRC handed over office space to the SADC to be used as the SADC Liaison Office in that country.
The office, which is located at 30 June Boulevard in Gombe, Kinshasa, enhances SADC’s presence in the DRC and provides an avenue for closer collaboration with stakeholders in that country in the regional bloc’s continued efforts to support the country attain sustainable peace, security, political stability and thus, socio-economic development. Among others, the secretariat in Gaborone said the SADC Liaison Office in the DRC will serve to coordinate SADC’s ongoing political, electoral and security support initiatives in that country. The office will also enable SADC to identify specific areas where support is required in liaison with the DRC government, as well as national, continental and regional stakeholders in support of electoral, political, peace and security processes in the DRC.