Ramaphosa visits DRC as Kinshasa seeks support against rebels

Thursday July 06 2023

Prime Minister Sama Lukonde welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa at Ndjili airport in Kinshasa, DRC on July 5, 2023. PHOTO | DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO PRESIDENCY


South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for a two-day official visit where he will hold talks with his host, President Felix Tshisekedi.

The South African leader was expected to meet with Tshisekedi at the Palais de la Nation, the official Presidential residence in the capital Kinshasa where they were expected to hold a working lunch and discuss ongoing initiatives to improve relations. 

Top on the agenda, officials said is security and trade, with the visit coming at a time Kinshasa is preparing for General Election amid security problems at home, in the east of the country.

Read: More Congolese register to vote in December polls

The two sides had recently reactivated the DRC-South Africa Great Joint Commission on Tuesday, a bilateral body of line ministers from both sides to work on revising bilateral deals.

According to Christophe Lutundula, the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs, the Joint Commission will strengthen ties between South Africa and DR Congo.


“South Africa has always been with the DRC. We are happy to recall the timeliness of these meetings, which will consolidate the cooperation between our two States, especially as in the recent past South Africa has been at the side of Malawi and other SADC countries to help the DRC get rid of the armed groups that were sowing terror on our territory,” he said referring to the southern Africa development bloc to which both countries belong.

Ms Thandi Ruth Modise, South Africa's Minister for Defence and Veterans, arrived in Kinshasa on Monday ahead of Ramaphosa’ s trip, signalling security cooperation. She was leading the security commission of the joint DRC-South African Republic grand commission.

In Kinshasa, officials are already announcing that the DRC is counting on this. But the two heads of state should first give direction on a number of agreements which officials say have been drafted but not yet signed.

Read: Why military interventions fail to end DRC wars

 On Thursday afternoon, according to the official programme, Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa and Félix Tshisekedi will take part in the work of the DRC-South Africa Economic Forum, which brings together around a hundred businessmen from the two countries.