South African President Jacob Zuma will, on 30 October 2009, co-chair the SA-DRC Bi- National Summit with his Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) counterpart, President Joseph Kabila at the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria. President Jacob Zuma will be supported by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and 11 other Government Ministers and Senior Officials.
The Bi-National meeting takes place within the context of consolidating African Agenda and strengthening bilateral relations between South Africa and DRC. South Africa’s bilateral engagements with the DRC are informed by its vision of an “African Renaissance” of peace, stability and security and sustained renewal, growth and socio-economic development for the African Continent.
Accordingly, SA- DRC Bi-National Meeting will focus on crucial continued support for the Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) programme, guided by both South African and the DRC Government programme for 2007-2011. The programme’s priorities are: infrastructure, employment, education, water, electricity and health (with the consolidation of peace and national reconciliation, Security Sector Reform (SSR) and institutional capacity building and re-establishment of State authority as critical anchors). Security Sector Reform in all its facets is crucial to the future security and stability of the DRC. The creation of a cohesive, competent and regularly-paid national army and police force would be a major step towards establishing lasting peace in the DRC.
The first session of the BNC was held in Kinshasa on 31 August 2004. Four Sectoral Commissions were established for the purpose of reviewing the progress in the implementation of commitments made between South Africa and the DRC in areas of Politics and Governance, Defence and Security, Economy, Finance and Infrastructure, Social and Humanitarian Affairs. The Fourth session of the BNC between South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo took place in Kinshasa on 21 August 2007, and was the first meeting of the BNC since the DRC elections and the installation of the democratically elected DRC Government headed by President Kabila followed by the Fifth session of the BNC which was held on 3 April 2008 in Pretoria.
The overriding content of South Africa’s current bilateral relations with the DRC is aimed at assisting the country to develop capacity to effectively manage its programmes within the framework of its own Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) programme. The General Cooperation Agreement to promote political, economic and social cooperation between South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was signed on 14 January 2004 and made provision for the establishment of a Bi-National Commission (BNC) as an annual forum for exchange and dialogue, with a strong focus on Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development. The General Cooperation Agreement has meanwhile translated into a number of bilateral projects with a strong focus on Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development.
South Africa remains furthermore committed to a strategy of post-conflict reconstruction and development (PCRD) in the DRC that is aligned with that of the African Union and NEPAD. It therefore supports the DRC Government in its approach to issues related to the integration of the army; demobilisation and reinsertion into normal civilian life, especially in the rural areas; the promotion of small scale development projects that would assist local communities to facilitate the reintegration of demobilised soldiers; the issue of women in armed groups; the reintegration of disabled soldiers and the training of the integrated brigades. South Africa also supported the dialogue in the eastern DRC which concluded with groundbreaking agreements between government and a plethora of organized militia, thereby establishing the first real opportunity to bring peace to this tormented region of the country.