2000

UNITED DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT

MEDIA RELEASE


COLLAPSE OF THE LUSAKA TALKS

MEDIA STATEMENT ISSUED BY MASILO MABETA, MP
SPOKESPERSON FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

The latest round of talks among the SADC member states in Lusaka on the continuing civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had hardly started, when there was media speculation that President Kabila would either boycott the talks, or reject the peace process outright, if it was not acceptable to him.

As things turned out, notwithstanding behind the scenes “quiet or soft” diplomatic manoeuvres to save the Lusaka Agreement on the cessation of hostilities in the DRC, Kabila has rejected an essential part of the Lusaka formula.  He is not prepared to accept former President Masire as a mediator or the deploying of peacekeeping troops outside the war zone.

This component of the peace proposals would, if successfully negotiated, narrow the distance between the intransigent positions held by the opposing parties and enabled the creation of a favourable climate for the resolution of the conflict in the DRC.

There appears to be a lack of trust and a proliferation of suspicion among the member’ states because of perceived partisanship by some delegates.  We have in the past warned our government against conducting themselves in a manner that lends itself to negative interpretations and perceptions by the government of the DRC in particular.

Prospects for an agreement in the Lusaka talks have been dashed for now.  South Africa must come clean and own up and explain the type of support or assistance she has given to any of the stakeholders.  Our mediatory role must be above suspicion.  In the light of previous complaints directed at our government by the Kinshasa administration, the onus rests with our government to demonstrate their impartiality publicly.  SA’s relationship with Rwanda and Uganda needs to be examined because these are important players in the Congo conflict.

The success of the peace process will depend on the acceptance of mediators by all the parties to the conflict as honest and impartial peace brokers.  The current conflict has all the ingredients that could make it degenerate in to a regional conflict if reckless diplomacy is not reined in.


Enquiries:
Masilo Mabeta, MP

Cape Town
21 August  2000