Ramaphosa's 'new dawn' must bring light to DRC too - expatriates

2018-02-23 17:53
Congolese nationals outside Parliament on Friday, urging South Africa to speak up against the atrocities in the DRC. (Jan Gerber, News24)

Congolese nationals outside Parliament on Friday, urging South Africa to speak up against the atrocities in the DRC. (Jan Gerber, News24)

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Cape Town – The "new dawn" that President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised to South Africa, must also reach the Democratic Republic Congo (DRC), expatriates of the troubled country said outside Parliament on Friday.

At about 11:30, around 60 Congolese nationals gathered outside Parliament's main gate on the corner of Plein and Roeland streets. As a result of their presence, the handful of pro-Israel protesters who stand outside Parliament every Friday moved further along Plein Street.

In a courteously-worded memorandum addressed to National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete, the organisation Congolese Diaspora of Western Cape said: "South Africa's democratic governance has stood the test of time and resisted any deterioration from individuals who wanted to transform this beautiful state into a banana republic through corruption, human rights abuses, electoral frauds and state capture. Such remarkable achievement echoes the deepest aspiration of so many African people, who are still subjected to tyrannic regimes that are tampering with their respective constitutions in order to extend their stay in power.(sic)"

In the memorandum, they congratulated Parliament for the "peaceful change of leadership which led [former president] Jacob Zuma to be peacefully and democratically replaced by President Cyril Ramaphosa". They also congratulated Ramaphosa.

"We wish him well and strongly believe that his presidency will have a more positive and people-oriented effect on the Congolese ongoing political crisis."

In November 2016, the DRC was supposed to hold elections, but Congolese president Joseph Kabila postponed it.

The elections were supposed to happen before the end of 2017, but never did. It is now set to take place on December 23.

"We are very concerned by the presence of Mr Joseph Kabila as head of state in the DRC, who is prepared to do whatever it takes, albeit unconstitutional, to remain in power," read the memorandum.

"It is not a secret that the outgone South African administration of former president Jacob Zuma had close ties with Mr Joseph Kabila's entourage in order to benefit illegally friends and cronies of the two presidents. (sic)".

ALSO READ: Violence in Cape Town as factions fight over DRC president Kabila

They alleged that Zuma's nephew Khulubuse Zuma has a corrupt relationship with Kabila.

They also said they had "reliable information" that Zuma's son Duduzane and the Guptas had a presence in the DRC.

City Press reported in 2014 that Jacob Zuma played a crucial role in a 2010 decision by Kabila to allocate two oilfields in the northeast of the country to Khulubuse.

In 2016, Fin24 reported that Khulubuse Zuma's name popped up in the Panama Papers related to this deal.

"South Africa's foreign policies on the DRC have been very lenient towards Mr Joseph Kabila, which has always fuelled the perception that South Africa is more concerned about business opportunities, but not about the atrocities committed against civilians, many of whom are women and children, in the DRC," read the memorandum.

They wanted South Africa to distance itself from the Kabila-regime, pressure Kabila not to revise the DRC's constitution and support the "Transition without Kabila" movement in order to have free and fair elections in the DRC.

"Long live the people of South Africa! Long live the people of the DRC! Long live Africa!" the memorandum ended.

Before the memorandum was read and given to a representative of Parliament, the Congolese sang, blew on whistles and carried posters decrying the human rights abuses in their country while their resources were stripped. They sang their anthem and there was a prayer.

"President Ramaphosa spoke of a new dawn. We claim that dawn is not only for South Africa, but for Africa," announced a man through a megaphone.

"Millions have died, and the world is watching."

"Speak up South African government! Speak up ANC! Speak up DA! Speak up EFF!"

Meanwhile, a woman shouted at them in Afrikaans.

"Wat's jou storie, man? (What's your story, man?)" a burly Congolese man, wearing a camouflage jacket asked her.

As a policeman asked the woman to move away, she started yelling at him, to which the Congolese man reacted: "Hey! Don’t speak to cops like that!"

"Dis my plek hierdie! (This is my place!)" the woman yelled as she started to walk away.

Read more on:    cyril ramaphosa  |  protests

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