|President of the DRC, Joseph Kabila. |
Carien du Plessis, News24
Pretoria – Members of the Congolese community in South Africa are threatening to disrupt a state visit by President Joseph Kabila because, they say, he is no longer legally in power in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kabila is set to meet with President Jacob Zuma at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria on Sunday as part of the 10th session of the South Africa-Democratic Republic of Congo Bi-National Commission, which deals with bilateral and economic relations between the two countries.
Kazadi Ilunga Mpanga, Gauteng based secretary general of the Congolese Community in South Africa, said Kabila was "already out of his constitutional mandate".
His second and final term in power expired in December last year, but the country has so far failed to organise elections.
The government said it first needed to do a census, which could take 18 months, but opposition parties saw that as a delaying tactic. Mediation efforts and peace talks between the parties by the African Union and the Catholic Church have all failed.
Mpanga said "Kabila is just a criminal" now and should not be received or recognised by other countries, including South Africa.
"We are not going to fold our arms, we are going to stand up [against Kabila]," Mpanga said. "We want to push him. Kabila must not survive."
He said members of the Congolese community would cancel their church services on Sunday in order to protest, in the same way they protested in front of the DRC embassy in Pretoria in December after elections failed to materialise. The December protests, which were part of similar protests elsewhere in the world, turned violent and protesters had to be dispersed by police.
Jean Claude Mbuyamba, a leader from the same organisation, said: "Nobody is willing to give us freedom. Freedom, you have to take it by force."
According to a statement from Zuma's office, the two countries "maintain good diplomatic and political relations". The two countries also co-operate in security, energy, infrastructure development, capacity and institutional building, trade, health and transport.
South Africa is the DRC’s biggest supplier of foreign goods and services, providing more than 20% of the country’s total imports, according to the statement.
South Africa also contributes troops to peacekeeping in the DRC and the two presidents would "exchange views on the peace, security, stability and development in the continent" with particular focus on the Great Lakes Region.
The last meeting of the Bi-National Commission took place in October 2015.