Monday, 30 January 2012

South Africa and DRC’s elections

Written by Gael Masengi
During the last year’s UN summit on climate change (COP 17) in Durban, President Jacob Zuma was literally forced to explain himself in front of the entire world when he was questioned by a Congolese activist the role of South Africa on vote rigging allegations in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s November elections. Mr President defended his government and blamed Congolese people themselves for their problems, he recalled Nelson Mandela’s mediation on the 1997’s Laurent D. Kabila and Mobutu Seseseko crisis and former president Thabo Mbeki’s involvement on 2002’s “Dialogue Intercongolais” talks which brought peace between the government and former rebel movements, reminding how his country has “always been there” for Congolese people.
Those comments didn’t seem to convince Congolese immigrants in South Africa who came in number to support their fellow country mates who were to appear in Hillbrow magistrate court, arrested during a raid of police targeting anti-Kabila activists in Johannesburg last Thursday. Songs like “Zuma! Leave Congo!”, “Kabila! Must Go!” were heard sung by angry protesters.  South Africa is seen as a heaven for immigrants and refugees from all over the African continent who come in the country in number every day to look for a better life, the continent economy power house has helped the DRC to organise its elections. But why are their efforts being thrown back at their face? Many asked!
November’s polls were the second in the country, mainly funded by the Congolese government since the 1998-2003 war, which claimed an estimated five million lives mostly in mineral richest eastern part of Congo. Contrary to the critics from international observers, the Southern Africa Community Development (SADC) observer mission, led the South African minister of Correctional Services Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula applauded the “sterling” job done by the DRC’s election commission (CENI). SADC joined the African Union in urging candidates to accept the outcome of the “successful’ elections. The South Africa run SADC has been criticised by many analysts for handling DRC’s elections the same way they have been doing in Zimbabwe since 2000. A question has been asked if South Africa itself stills a democratic country, many don’t think so. The ANC prefers to support dictators and leaving alone the oppressed African people, the South African ruling party came out openly to announce its support to the bloody regime of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe in this year’s election. Instead of pushing for a democratic change in the DRC, leaders of the South African government seem keen to protect their personal interests. The S.A foreign policy had its credibility in balance by openly denying the Dalai Lama an entry visa to attend the 80th birthday celebration of a fellow Nobel Prize laureate, Desmond Tutu, raging human rights activists who criticised the government’s behaviour as a capitulation to China. The arch-bishop Tutu called its conduct disgraceful and discourteous toward his Holiness the Dalai Lama.
At some point, South Africa is playing its biggest trading partner’s game (China) of not ‘interfering’ on other’s domestic affairs even if that particular regime kills its own people. 
“Gadhafi will not quit” declared President Jacob Zuma during his visit to the late Muhammar Gadhafi in Libya amid people uprising in May last year, again favouring personal interests over the people’s.
Days after the elections in DRC, alerted Congolese activists seized fresh ballot papers which were being flown for Johannesburg’s O.R Tambo International Airport to Kinshasa and Lubumbashi (second city), the activists were forced out but manage to film the events.
If the South African government want to regain the credibility of its foreign policy has lost since the days of Nelson Mandela, it will use every international mechanics at its disposal to push for a democratic outcome in the DRC. Until then, it should not recognise Joseph Kabila as the rightful president of the DRC. Noted Kenneth Mubu of the opposition in South Africa (DA)

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