South Africa believes that neutralising the negative forces in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will require the optimum utilisation of military resources deployed in the DRC.
Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was speaking during a Security Council debate on the Great Lakes region that also covered the political concerns in Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan.
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is part of the United Nations mission to the DRC's Force Intervention Brigade. Mapisa-Nqakula acknowledged the relative improvement to the security situation in the eastern DRC, making a number of observations for Council to consider.
"South Africa believes the objective of neutralisation of negative forces should not be perceived as only implying the use of force against the armed groups but also includes application of all possible methods of influencing the negative forces to renounce violence as a means towards attaining their objectives; and to opt to disarm and demobilise. This would enable the fast-tracking of the process of restoration and consolidation of state authority in the eastern DRC."
She pledged the country's support for the extension of the mandate of Monusco (The United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) while urging the international community to look beyond a military solution.
"As the international community, collectively, we need go back to basics and identify the root causes to the conflict in the Great Lakes Region. In addition to the resource paradox mentioned earlier, we should also take into account the interwoven interest groups whose pursuit for power and natural resources overshadow the importance of developing the area and redistributing the wealth of the land to the people of the region so that they too, like many societies in the world, can thrive and live a prosperous life."
Mapisa-Nqakula welcomed moves towards an inclusive political dialogue in Burundi and called for resources to be made available to support the consolidation of peace in the country.
"South Africa believes that the people and the government of Burundi have the ability to overcome their challenges through inclusive national dialogue as well as peaceful political means just as they had shown with the Arusha Agreement, which ended the civil war that had killed thousands of Burundians."
She added that the stability and prosperity of the Great Lakes Region was at the heart of her country's foreign policy objectives of an Africa that is unified, free and where its people are able to thrive and realize their true potential.
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