South African president Cyril Ramaphosa used this week’s edition of his newsletter to tell citizens the country is chairing the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) this month (February) and elaborating for “peace, stability and development” in Africa.
He wrote it is concerning conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and shows “no signs of abating, with the latest cycle of violence being fuelled by the resurgence of M23, an armed group thought to have been dismantled in 2013”.
“We cannot but be moved by the dire humanitarian situation in DRC and horrified by the scale of violence unleashed on civilian populations, particularly on women and girls.
“South Africa has been actively engaged in peacebuilding efforts in DRC and we provide troops to the MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), a UN (United Nations) stabilisation mission.
“To stop this conflict, we need to address the root causes of conflict, among them illegal exploitation of mineral resources and competition between countries in the Great Lakes region. That is why we called for the resumption of dialogue, de-escalation of tensions between warring parties and withdrawal of all foreign armed groups from eastern DRC,” he wrote also welcoming an AU Assembly decision on the deployment of an East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) to enhance regional peace and security.
“Other challenges loom large on Africa’s peace and security landscape. Recently, there were unconstitutional changes of government in Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Sudan, with all four member states remaining suspended from the AU. The involvement of foreign fighters, armed groups and mercenaries in African conflicts, as well as the rise of terrorism and violent extremism in Somalia, the Sahel region and northern Mozambique also pose serious threats to the continent’s stability.
“The PSC is seized with the challenge of securing predictable, adequate and sustainable financing for AU peace and security activities. We call for the UN to fund Africa’s peace efforts and welcome that the AU Peace Fund is on track to meet targets.”
Since the advent of democracy in 1994, South Africa has played an active role in UN and AU peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts in Burundi, Ethiopia-Eritrea, Liberia and Darfur.
Our country is the fifteenth largest contributor of uniformed personnel among UN member states, and is the sixth largest contributor of women peacekeepers.
Last year the UN’s Under-Secretary for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix said that South Africa’s contribution to MONUSCO had been “essential to efforts to build peace” and that outreach efforts by our female peacekeepers had greatly strengthened the mission’s relationship with Congolese communities.