President Jacob Zuma on Monday congratulated the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for a successful conclusion to its presidential elections.
In a statement issued by his office, Zuma said the people of that country had shown their desire to consolidate peace.
“The people of the DRC have shown their determination and will to enhance national reconciliation, boost the democratic process, and lay the foundation for lasting peace as well as economic and social development,” he said.
Zuma received a report from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) election observer mission in his capacity as chairperson of the SADC organ on politics, defence, and security cooperation.
The mission, led by Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, reported that the elections were conducted in line with electoral laws.
The 198 observers, some of which were from Tanzania and Zambia, were stationed in 10 provinces on November 11.
Zuma said for the first time in the history of election observer missions on the continent, a joint declaration in support of the people of the DRC, was issued by African observer missions. This includes SADC, the African Union (AU), and the Common Market of East and Southern Africa, among others.
He acknowledged the difficult technical and logistical conditions under which the elections were conducted.
“The isolated acts of violence during the elections are also regrettable.”
Zuma applauded the conduct of all parties in helping to arrest the volatile situation.
He appealed to political leaders and their parties to unite and work together to peacefully continue the democratic process.
On Sunday, Zuma telephonically discussed the elections and current situation in the DRC with the three presidential candidates — President Joseph Kabila Kabange of the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy, Etienne Tshisekedi of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, and Vital Kamerhe of the Union pour la Nation Congolaise.
“I impressed upon them the need for sound leadership and unity at this time,” he said.
“As SADC we rely on them to ensure that the process going forward is smooth and in line with democratic principles as well as AU and SADC protocols. They assured me of their willingness to cooperate and put the country first.”
Protests against Zuma
Meanwhile, a group of protesters from the DRC have accused Zuma of being complicit in what they believe is electoral fraud during their recent election.
“Zuma has organised fraud in our election,” said Mondeor Mwela during a protest in central Johannesburg.
Protesters threw the business cards of Tshisekedi in the air.
The group said police had fired rubber bullets at them as they tried to get to the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters in the Johannesburg city centre.
Police kept them at bay opposite Beyers Naude Square, while parts of Sauer and President streets were cordoned off.
The group said western interests wanted Kabila to stay in place because of the country’s mineral resources.
They questioned why South Africa had sent troops to the country, saying there was no war and that they wanted the troops out. They claimed the South African observers were aware there was cheating in the election but had not done anything about it. — Sapa