Memo to all Congolese stakeholders 
08 September 2000)

We have in the past re-iterated our position that our government must not be seen to be playing a partisan role in its intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) conflict. We even brought to the attention of the public that an arms transaction involving the Ministry of Defence and some of the belligerent forces had been disclosed. The Minister of Defence, Mr Lekota admitted as much in parliament earlier this year. We urged, him to return the money to the intended arms purchaser as evidence of non-partisan interest in the conflict, but to-date this has not been done. You are welcome to visit our website in order to capture the document about South Africa’s involvement in the DRC.The situation in the DRC is compounded by the active involvement of foreign troops in the conflict and the apparent private agendas of other players who want to exploit the natural resources of that country. It is time to allow the Congolese people to take a leading position in the resolution of their problems. We do not underestimate the importance of the peace efforts, which culminated in the Lusaka Agreement. There is no doubt that doubts and suspicions are currently plaguing the Lusaka Agreement and are responsible for the present impasse in the peace process.
 Any way forward with a reasonable chance of success must take into account the fears of the various groups and individuals who have played some role in the Congo saga since the days of Mobuto Sese Seko.

It will be recalled that the initial conflict involved the erstwhile government of the former President Mobuto and the present incumbent Kabila and his former promoters and backers, Uganda and Rwanda. The defenders of the old order in the former Zaire have understandable insecurities and a desire to see a government that would guarantee their safety and security come to power.

 Naturally they would like to be a party to the process that would realise that objective. The combatants in the present conflict, on either side, would like to see coming to power a government they could trust to protect their interests. The Kabila Administration is unlikely to accept a solution that does not safeguard the future security of its key players. Neither will the rebel leaders agree to a solution that threatens their security. There is a whole complex network of relationships spanning many decades which have created a variety of concerns and interests that would need to be addressed by a future lasting peace settlement and the establishment of a nationally acceptable government in the Congo.

 To achieve this, there need to be a national Indaba involving all the parties and personalities representing all these concerned interest groups among the Congolese. These include those involved in the current war as well as those not involved but concerned about the future of their country. These may be inside as well as outside the country.

Such a conference would take place at a neutral venue that would accommodate all these groups and create a favorable climate that would unlock the current log-jam and identify common areas of agreement that could lead the country out of the crisis to a situation where there will be no losers or winners, but underlying the paramountacy of interests of the suffering Congolese people on the ground.

 The United Nations (UN) would be an ideal sponsor and co-ordinator of such a conference. It has the stature and capacity to ensure neutrality and leveling of the playing field to guarantee the maximum benefits of the Congolese people. The UDM believes that the thrust of the conference is to bring the Congolese people together for the purpose of solving their own problems.

 The Conference of all Congolese will be competent to draw up a programme of action with which to chart the way forward. This could be the beginning of a process which would phase out foreign adventurers who are now fighting among themselves over DRC spoils. The UDM notes with regret the ambivalence and pussy-footing of the UN Security Council in dealing with foreign aggressors in the DRC. A timely and effective response would have nipped the conflict in the bud.

Bantu Holomisa, MP
President: United Democratic Movement

Cc: UN Secretary General
Secretariat SADC
All Embassies in South Africa
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