Kabila 'mustn't attend Zuma's inauguration'
22 May 2014, 17:14
Cape Town – Congolese citizens living in South Africa are seeking to put pressure on South Africa not to invite the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila to the inauguration ceremony of President Jacob Zuma on Saturday.
This is in protest against what they term "massive" human rights abuses in DRC and in particular the use of rape as "a weapon of war" by Congolese armed forces, rebels and the numerous militia fighting over local control and the rich natural resources in the east.
Zuma is expected to be sworn in for a second term as president on Saturday following a "resounding" victory by the African National Congress (ANC) in the 7 May elections.
According to SouthAfrica.info, thousands, including current and former heads of state, are expected to attend the event to be held at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
South Africa's democracy
Representatives of the Congolese Community of South Africa, told News24 that they were opposed to the invitation of Kabila as one of the delegates to grace the occasion.
"What is happening in DRC is more than what Boko Haram militants are doing in Nigeria. If South Africa's democracy is based on human rights principles, then they shouldn't allow Kabila to attend a ceremony where a democratically elected leader is sworn in," the group told News24.
They remained adamant Kabila was not a democratically elected leader and claimed that millions were suffering under his "dictatorship".
The group has since written a petition to the SA government citing the reasons why Kabila and Congo's Dennis Sassou Nguesso should not attend.
In a memorandum (a copy of which was made available to News24) sent to the Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane, the Congolese said:
"We believe that the inauguration of the president of South Africa is a democratic act, therefore all heads of state invited are surely representing the voice of their people which is a symbol and respect of democracy."
They claimed thousands of people from the DRC were living as refugees in other countries as they felt they were not safe in their country.
"We would like to affirm going back to the 28th November 2011 elections, Kabila has never been elected by Congolese people," read the memorandum.
A few weeks ago, US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Kabila to respect a constitutional law which forbids him from seeking a new term in 2016 elections.
Reports say Kabila has been trying to alter the current constitution to allow him to contest the next elections.
An AFP report quoted Kerry as saying he believed it was clear to Kabila that the US felt very strongly that the constitutional process needed to be respected.
Kerry also announced that the US would provide funding of $30m "to support transparent and credible elections as well as recovery... programmes in eastern [Democratic Republic of] Congo".
Under Kabila's leadership, the lives of thousands of Congolese’s, including activists, journalists and political activists, have been lost.