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DRC/Botswana: Diplomatic dispute between Tshisekedi and Masisi

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Monday, 22 March 2021 18:50

Arrival of the President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, in Kinshasa, 15 March 2021 © Radio Okapi

Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi has been on a “working visit” to Kinshasa since 15 March. He came to settle a dispute with DRC’s President Félix Tshisekedi.

Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi wants to reach a consensus with DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi on the candidate for the post of executive secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), whose election will take place in August.

Only their two countries are permitted to nominate candidates this year. Masisi is trying to persuade Tshisekedi to withdraw Faustin Luanga Mukela’s nomination.

Financial difficulties

Currently in Switzerland, this senior World Trade Organization (WTO) official is due to arrive in Kinshasa in April to start lobbying. The problem is that no organisation has yet been set up within the presidency to manage his campaign. Furthermore, the Congolese are facing several difficulties, including financial ones: they are behind in their SADC dues of $3m, whereas the Botswanas are up to date with theirs.

The DRC is also considered to be geographically and diplomatically on the periphery of the SADC. While Tshisekedi has asked member countries for support in forming a regional coalition to fight the ADF (an armed Ugandan group operating in the DRC city of Beni), he has not yet ratified the Community’s Mutual Defence Protocol. The SADC also feels that this security issue should be handled by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

Another argument against the DRC is that it does not have a permanent presence at the SADC headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana. It is represented there by its diplomatic mission in South Africa.

To get back into the diplomatic fray, Kinshasa must try to mobilise South Africa, the leading power in SADC, Mozambique, which currently heads the organisation, and its three neighbouring members: Angola, Tanzania and Zambia. However, Kinshasa’s relations with most of these countries are strained.

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