The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is set to hold elections on 23 December. The country continues to grapple with political instability and security issues ahead of the highly anticipated polls.

South Africa as a guarantor of the peace process in the DRC took part in the High Level Meeting of the Great Lakes region in Kampala, Uganda.

Leaders and delegates were locked in talks, discussing peace and security in the DRC as the country heads to the elections and seeking to foster peace-keeping and intervention strategies.

Many accuse South Africa of gaining mineral resources from the DRC for the political elite.

However, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula dismisses this claim. “ Yes there are challenges, we are in a country that has got its own challenges as they are preparing for elections. Right now but it’s always good and important for us to continue with assessments of the threat. The biggest challenge which was discussed here was the very negative forces.”

Mapisa-Nqakula says Pretoria’s involvement in the DRC is based purely on its foreign policy of sustaining a peaceful continent. Troops deployed will remain there until Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders recall them.

“South Africa will continue to be in the DRC for as long as the heads of state of the SADC region have not taken a decision to withdraw the force intervention brigade. So we are there as part of the framework brigade and as part of the force intervention brigade together with Malawi and Tanzania.”

The United Nations is encouraged by the progress made in the DRC ahead of the elections. At the same time SADC Troika Chair Edgar Lungu says there is an urgent need to demilitarise rebel forces in the region and that peace and stability can be achieved.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni believes it is possible to defeat rebel groups. UN Security Council officials are also expected to table a final report on their findings of the political climate in the DRC before the country goes to the polls. Author- Mbali Thethani