The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has expressed its position and support for a stable, peaceful and prosperous Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This position was reaffirmed during a virtual consultative meeting convened on 26th May 2020 by the SADC Ambassadors accredited to the United Nations in New York to discuss the political and security situation in the SADC region.
In his remarks, Hon. Prof. Kabudi commended the SADC Permanent Representatives to the UN for their continued engagement with the UN on Peace and Security in the DRC. Hon. Prof. Kabudi indicated that the FIB has contributed significantly to the stability and security in the eastern part of DRC and there was need to ensure that the FIB remains an effective defence capability of MONUSCO.
He called for a continued and pragmatic engagement with the UN to reiterate SADC’s position to the reconfiguration of the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), particularly in relation to the proposal to replace one FIB battalion with a composite battalion to include non-SADC countries. The meeting expressed concerns that such proposal would undermine the operational effectiveness and unity of command and control of the FIB.
Presenting an overview of the political and security situation in the SADC Region, the Executive Secretary of SADC, H.E. Dr. Stergomena L. Tax highlighted that the region has remained calm and peaceful, notwithstanding pocketed security challenges resulting from acts of terrorism by the negative forces and attacks by insurgents, mainly in the Eastern parts of the DRC, and in the Cabo Delgado Province in Mozambique. She assured the meeting that SADC remains seized with all peace and security matters in the region, and underscored the need for the SADC region to remain vigilant against emerging local, regional and continental peace and security threats, as reaffirmed by the Extraordinary Organ Troika Summit Plus the Republic of Mozambique, held in Harare, Zimbabwe on the 19th of May 2020.
In her contribution, Hon. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans of South Africa, urged SADC member states to stand in solidarity with DRC and achieve lasting peace and security, by among others, ensuring a formidable FIB, which is capable of protecting civilians in the eastern part of the DRC, as required. She indicated that, continued engaging the UN, and in particular, with members of the Security Council in seeking consensus on the need to boost the operational capability of the FIB, is paramount.
H.E. Ambassador Prof. Kennedy Gastorn, Permanent Representative of the United Republic of Tanzania at the UN and Chairperson of Committee of SADC Ambassadors presented on behalf of the Permanent Representatives of SADC the following, which were reiterated as SADC position:
To urgently resuscitate the UN-SADC Joint Task Team for joint implementation of the outstanding SADC-UN Joint Task Force Recommendations and General Santos Cruz Report;
SADC to engage and UN Secretariat to ensure SADC submissions are taken on board in the Concept of Operations (CONOPS) and implementation plan.
SADC to undertake an assessment mission at tactical and operational level in order to determine the potential operational gaps during the MONUSCO drawdown;
The need to align all FIB reconfiguration with African Group on Fifth Committee; and
To avoid the reduction of one of the FIB elements to create composite unit with non-SADC troops.
The virtual consultative meeting was attended by, among others, Hon. Professor Palamagamba John Kabudi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania and Chairperson of SADC Council of Ministers, Hon. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans of the Republic of South Africa, H.E. Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, the SADC Executive Secretary, SADC Permanent Representatives to the UN, representatives of the DRC, and Chiefs of Defence Forces and Commanders from FIB Troops Contributing Countries (TCC) namely, Malawi, South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania
The FIB was authorized by the United Nations Security Council on 28 March 2013 through Resolution 2098. On 19 November 2019, the United Nation Security Council adopted Resolution 2502 of 2019 which extended for a year, the MONUSCO mandate and maintained FIB to protect civilians and support the stabilisation and strengthening of DRC state institutions.