10 November 2017

South Africa: Congolese Picket U.S. Consulate in Cape Town

Photo: Bernard Chiguvare/GroundUp
Members of the Congolese Diaspora of the Western Cape picketed outside the United State Consulate General in Cape Town.

About 15 members of the Congolese Diaspora of the Western Cape picketed outside the United State Consulate General in Cape Town. The picket was held in front of the Consulate gate on Reddam Avenue, Steenberg. Many members of the group live in Bellville in the northern suburbs and it was too difficult for them to get to the protest. Some of the demonstrators wrapped Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) flags around them. Police were present.

The protest follows a visit by Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations, to the DRC. According to a memo handed over by the protesters, Haley called for the DRC to hold elections by the end of the year. Failing this, it will lose international support. But the protesters say that this showed no "attempt to address the real problem in the DRC." Instead they argue that the priority must be that President Joseph Kabila steps down.

"As long as Joseph Kabila is in power, even if he does not take part in the upcoming elections, there will be no guarantee of fairness and reliability for elections. Therefore, Kabila must go," stated the memo.

It continued: "We would like to remind you that the US has largely benefited from the plundering of Congolese rich minerals through multinational companies and through the US-sponsored regime of Paul Kagame of Rwanda. Under the US benediction, Rwanda has become an experter of Coltan which it does not have, while Congolese people are being killed by pro-Rwanda militias operating in the Eastern Provinces of the DRC."

In other words, the protesters wants elections in the DRC, but they first want Kabila gone.

Titshou Ngwene, who is a refugee living in South Africa, said, "Kabila is now Master of the Jungle. He is ruthless. Opposition politicians in DRC are either killed or corrupted so that he stays in power."

Christian Sita Mampuya, a spokesperson for the group, said, "We are appealing to the South African government especially President Jacob Zuma not to support Joseph Kabila. Kabila is no longer the legitimate president of Congo. We, the Congolese, are looking forward to holding elections next year."

A US consulate official received the group's memorandum and promised to forward it to the relevant officials.

The memorandum calls for the US to take a tougher stance against Kabila and impose sanctions, and to no longer recognise Kabila as the head of state. It calls on the US to mobilise the international community to pressurise Kabila to step down for a transition period during which free and fair elections can be organised.

The group also calls on the international community and the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo to protect peaceful protesters in the country.

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