The Herald (Harare)

Southern Africa: Kudos to SADC for DRC Force

News that Sadc has finally moved to deploy its standby force in the Democratic Republic of Congo is providential and shows that the regional group is carrying on the legacy of the Front Line States that preceded it. As we report elsewhere in this issue, we are contributing troops to the Standby Force and we are not going in as Zimbabwe but as part of a Sadc force.

Reports that we were deploying had been met with mixed feelings in some quarters.

Suffice to say our country has been consistent in its participation in peace missions around the world under the United Nations, African Union and Sadc and the latest call to duty in the DRC will be no exception.

In 1998, we sent in troops as part of the Troika to restore peace in the then war-torn country just like we are doing now as the region seeks to resolve the armed conflict in the eastern DRC where government forces and the M23 rebels have been fighting for the past few months.

The deployment of forces in the DRC follows the recent approval by regional leaders at a Sadc Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government in Tanzania where a commitment was made to deploy a neutral force to restore peace in eastern DRC.

"Zimbabwe, being a member of Sadc, is obliged by the (Sadc) Treaty and Protocol on Defence and Security to assist DRC because the country is also a member of the regional bloc.

"The Sadc-mandated force will be a neutral international force and will monitor both sides as the regional bloc moves to ensure there is peace in the region," Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Joey Bimha was quoted as having said last week.

Zimbabwe's peace and stability that it enjoys today -- which some elements take for granted - is a product of a protracted struggle and African solidarity in which the then Organisation of African Unity and the Frontline States played a big role.

The region, and the continent even, have always believed that we can never celebrate peace when our fellow brothers and sisters elsewhere are dodging bullets in wars largely fuelled by our erstwhile colonisers.

Even after attaining our own independence we had to repel apartheid South Africa's destabilisation forays into the country and the security threat posed by Renamo bandits in Mozambique.

It is worth pointing out that even before that we had learned the tradition from the Tanzanians, the Mozambicans and Zambians that provided support to our war effort.

We believe the region and us should carry on that responsibility of ensuring peace in the region and repelling all attempts at dividing Africans in a bid to steal their resources.

It is our hope that even as the African force is deployed in the DRC, the locals there realise the need for unity to safeguard their resources so that there could be lasting peace even when the force leaves after a year.

It is our hope and prayer that all African countries that have pledged troops for the peacekeeping mission will contribute forces and that all countries pay their dues to the African Union so that our continental body and the United Nations are able to sustain a force in the DRC.

The last thing we need as Africa is for our intervention force to be dictated to by the very nations behind the conflict in the DRC through our failure as Africa to fund our intervention effort, leading to the meddling by the Western nations.

It is crucial to take note of the foreign aggression on the continent disguised as sporadic civil wars.

We have seen the stampede in Libya for oil and we know quite well that the DRC is rich in mineral resources and some Trojan Horse is being used to siphon those resources out of that vast nation.

We commend Sadc for taking a stand and urge other African countries to support the restoration of peace to the DRC since none of the smaller nations is safe from the bully tactics of superpowers that use their proxies to spread their tentacles over the continent.

United we stand.

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