Cablegate: South Africa: Drc Watcher's Round-Up, Bolstering


DE RUEHSA #2181/01 3000620
P 270620Z OCT 09




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) South Africa's engagement with the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC) peace process has waned since early
2008, when the ANC leadership showdown at Polokwane eclipsed
the Goma Conference, but Pretoria's influence remains
significant as a major troop contributor to MONUC and as the
key interface for trilateral cooperation. Visiting Human
Rights Watch Researcher Anneke Van Woudenberg recently called
on South Africa to press for greater protection for the
civilian population of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC). The MONUC Pretoria office serves as a constant
diplomatic reminder of South Africa's critical leadership in
DRC's transition, and Congolese officials, most recently DDR
Adviser Nzekani Zena, visit regularly to update a shrinking
contingent of DRC watchers, maintaining a somewhat frayed
lifeline to SADC's leading country. End summary.

--------------------------------------------- -------
HRW Urges Action to Protect Civilians in Eastern DRC
--------------------------------------------- -------

2. (SBU) Addressing an audience of academics, embassy
representatives, South African government officials, and
NGO's at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria
September 30, Senior Human Rights DRC Watcher Anneke Van
Woudenberg affirmed the important leadership role South
Africa still plays with regard to DRC, both militarily,
through its contribution to MONUC, and politically. Van
Woudenberg charged that current levels of violence in eastern
DRC are comparable to those during the regional wars that
ravaged DRC a decade ago. She expressed doubt that President
Kabila can see beyond military approaches to resolve the
crisis in DRC, despite the fact that Congolese military has
been shown without any doubt to be incapable, even when
supported by MONUC. She recalled that when Kabila's 2008
request for EU or SADC military support went unanswered, he
immediately turned to former belligerents Rwanda and Uganda
for a military solution. Predictably, she continued, no
sooner had Rwanda and Uganda withdrawn when the FDLR and the
LRA again turned on the civilian population, attacking
villages accused of betrayal.

3. (SBU) Van Woudenberg estimated that a million people had
been displaced in eastern DRC in 2009. She called on the UN
Office of Peacekeeping Operations to develop a better
framework for the protection of civilians. She called for
greater pressure to ensure the compliance of all parties to
international humanitarian law. Van Woudenberg welcomed
Secretary Clinton's tough message to the GDRC on compliance
with international human rights standards. She expressed
disappointment that international statements condemning the
human rights situation in DRC are increasingly infrequent,
charging that remaining silent cannot be an option in the
face of continuing abuse. She noted that MONUC has a strong
human rights section that continues to collect information on
abuses. She complained that known human rights abusers
remain in leadership positions in the Congolese military. Van
Woudenberg observed that South Africa's political engagement
in the DRC had fallen off in the last year and a half as
South Africa has been pre-occupied with domestic matters.
Following the seminar, however, Van Woudenberg told
DepPolCouns she was about to address the South African
military staff college, the first time HRW had been invited
Qmilitary staff college, the first time HRW had been invited
to speak to future peacekeepers.

MONUC Pretoria Maintains Steady Contact

4. (SBU) UN Mission Organization to the DRC (MONUC) Head of
Office Pretoria Mujahid Alam called on Political Counselor
on October 13. DepPolCouns sat in as Alam discussed the
1,200-strong South African National Defense Force contingent
in MONUC. Alam said the South African MONUC contingent had
previously had problems with discipline and logistics but had
largely overcome them. He commented that tribal issues among
South Africa's MONUC contingent arise from time to time and
tend to undermine discipline, as do racial issues between
back and white South African officers. Alam admitted that
while discipline had improved among South African troops,
South Africa's interest in MONUC had fallen off sharply since
the showdown between former president Thabo Mbeki and Jacob
Zuma at the African National Congress (ANC) party congress on
Polokwane in January 2008. Alam expressed hope that the Zuma
administration would take renewed interest in DRC. He noted

that Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor Lindiwe Zulu was
involved in the Joint Verification Mechanism designed to
secure the DRC-Rwanda border.

Update on DRC's DDR Process

5. (SBU) On October 23, Prosper Nzekani Zena, Advisor in
Charge of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR)
for the GDRC and Henri Boshoff, Head of the Peace Missions
Program at the Pretoria Institute for Security Studies (ISS),
presented a progress report on DDR in the DRC. According to
Nzekani Zena, the GDRC's Phase II DDR process is on track to
be completed by the end of 2009. He said a July assessment
indicated that 45,000 ex-combatants are to be reintegrated
into the Congolese military (FARDC), and 5,000 are to be
demobilized by the end of the year. He told us that most
CNDP and Mai Mai forces had already been integrated into the
FARDC through an accelerated (one-month) integration process.
Nzekani Zena told the audience of academics, journalists,
and embassy representatives that a program called STAREC,
which combines elements of the Amani process and the MONUC
stabilization plan, is aimed at restoring the rule of law in
eastern DRC and would carry on the work of the DDR process
after 2009. He added that following the completion of DDR,
the GDRC's priority is to retire overage FARDC troops, which
is expected to bring FARDC troop strength down from the
EUSEC-estimated current troop strength of 130,000 to 100,000.
Nzekani Zena indicated that recruitment would follow the
demobilization of retiring FARDC troops, dodging questions
about how large an army the DRC can afford. Boshoff
interjected a comment, saying the DRC had not done its own
defense white paper to determine what size military it needs,
adding that the Congolese have discarded a number of planning
documents done of their behalf by Europeans. Following the
presentation, Boshoff told DepPolCouns he was very concerned
about the situation in eastern DRC, despite the upbeat
scenario Nzekani Zena portrayed.


6. (SBU) South Africa's leadership in the DRC peace process
is needed, as much now as it was in the era of the Sun City
Accord. Renewed involvement for Pretoria in stabilizing
eastern DRC might, perhaps with some encouragement, flow from
regional engagement. DRC's tenure as president of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) may not offer
strong prospects for the advancement of the regional
organization, but it could offer some chance for the DRC to
play a role in its own history other than that of perpetrator
or victim. The plight of civilians still suffering in
eastern DRC and the scourge of DRC's gender-based violence
epidemic no longer resonate deeply in a South Africa
preoccupied with its own protracted and painful transition,
but South Africa still expects its peacekeeping operations to
end in success. South Africa has an opportunity this year to
play big brother to DRC within the SADC troika.


© Scoop Media

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