DRC snubs SADC peace envoy
By Timo Shihepo
Windhoek – The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) under President Joseph Kabila has refused to host former Namibia’s president, Hifikepunye Pohamba, as the SADC special envoy for peace talks in that country.
Pohamba was appointed as the SADC special envoy to the DRC in August, as tension intensified because of overdue presidential and national assembly elections in the vast central-southern African country.
The Southern Times has, however, gathered that Kabila has written to SADC that he is not willing to entertain talks with Pohamba and has asked the institution not to send anyone to his country.
Pohamba’s office has confirmed that the special envoy’s mission to DRC is off with no new date set.
“We have not received any information from SADC or from President Joseph Kabila that he does not want to host the special envoy. However, what SADC told us is that they have written to President Kabila and the DRC foreign minister that the special envoy was set for inaugural talks on Thursday, November 16.
“However, President Kabila and the foreign affairs minister did not respond. Since they did not respond to the SADC letter, the envoy could not proceed with the special mission. That’s the only information we have at the moment,” Peter Mwatile, the executive director in the office of the former president told The Southern Times this week.
The security situation in the DRC has become increasingly volatile ever since the 2016 December deadline for elections was missed and a peace agreement brokered by the Catholic Church also in December last year fell apart.
The opposition demanded that elections be held before the end of this year. SADC chairperson, Jacob Zuma, during the SADC Summit earlier this year said “it might not be possible to hold elections in December 2017, due to a number of challenges currently receiving attention”.
The DRC election commission this month said “direct voting” supervised by SADC will now take place on 23 December 2018, covering presidential, legislative, regional and local elections.
It, however, remains unclear if the elections will still take place given the new developments.
Setback for the region
Kabila’s refusal to entertain talks with SADC’s special envoy is another setback for what was once regarded as Africa’s region of peace. That title is, however, increasingly fading as political tensions in countries in SADC intensify.
The once peaceful Zimbabwe was rocked by tensions this week as the army took control.
The development in Zimbabwe comes just a month after Lesotho’s army commander was shot dead by rival military officers. Lieutenant-General Khoantle Motsomotso was shot at his home by a group of soldiers who had recently been fired. One soldier was also killed during the attack and several were injured.
Lesotho has been beset by power struggles and concerns about military interference in politics. The country has seen a number of high-profile assassinations, including the 2015 killing of a former army chief, Maaparankoe Mahao.
Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s party won elections in June, returning him to power three years after he fled Lesotho for fear he was an assassination target.
Critics accuse the military of favouring Thabane’s old rival Pakalitha Mosisili who ruled from 1998-2012 and 2015-2017.
In his capacity as the as the Chairperson of African Union Panel of the Wise, Pohamba has called on African countries to work together to solve political situations in several countries.
“Africa should continue to redouble efforts to assist countries to find political solutions. The Panel of the Wise is more than ready to join the Chairperson of the African Union Commission in helping to find solutions to the conflicts prevailing on our continent.
“There are various conflict situations in Africa.
All is not doom and gloom. Progress is being made, although slow and at times frustrating,” he said at the 8th High-Level Retreat on the Promotion of Peace, Security and Stability in Africa, held in Chad last month.