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This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Congo (Kinshasa): Regional Church Statement

Congo (Kinshasa): Regional Church Statement
Date distributed (ymd): 981005
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Central Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +security/peace+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains a statement on the crisis in Congo (Kinshasa) from a meeting of Southern and Central African church representatives on September 7-10, 1998. It was distributed on October 1, 1998 by the Ecumenical Documentation and Information Centre for Eastern and Southern Africa (EDICESA), e-mail: edicesa@mango.zw.

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

EMERGENCY MEETING ON THE DRC CRISIS

At an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) held in Lusaka, Zambia from September 7-10, 1998, the churches and ecumenical organisations in Southern Africa and Great Lakes region called on invaders in the DRC to withdraw immediately and allow the people of this country to sort out their problems peacefully.

The crisis, featuring the DRC government and SADC allied troops on one side, and Congolese rebels supported by Rwanda and Uganda on the other, was the subjected of the three day meeting organised by the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Eastern and Southern Africa (FOCCESA), and the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) in collaboration with American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC).

The churches and ecumenical movements -- realising the potential of the crisis engulfing the greater Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Great Lakes regions -- vehemently opposed the resolution of the conflict in the Congo through military means, and pointed out possible ways to a negotiated settlement.

The churches and ecumenical organisations expressed concern that failure to immediately resolve the DRC conflict in a peaceful way, would result in a long war in the region at the expense of reconstruction and economic development.

Furthermore the conflict had the potential of dividing the region which is historically known for its solidarity actions towards one another.

"We appeal to the Churches and other faiths communities, the political leadership and the people of the DRC to do everything in their power to bring an immediate end to the war, to embark on a process of reconciliation through dialogue ....." said the participants in their final communique.

The meeting was attended by more than 25 participants who critically analysed the conflict in the DRC and its implications on the wider region of SADC and Great Lakes and drew up a plan of action to solve the conflict in a non-violent manner.

The meeting was opened by Rev Violet Sampa-Bredt who wears a number of hats, including that of FOCCESA chairperson, AACC vice president for Southern Africa and General Secretary of the host Christian Council of Zambia (CCZ).

Rev Sampa-Bredt urged participants to engage churches, political leaders, national, regional and international organisations in their search for lasting peace in the DRC.

She expressed disappointment that efforts to find peace up and until the Lusaka meeting had excluded religious leaders and movements who could offer a Christian solution to compliment the political solution sought by political leaders in SADC, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

"We pray earnestly that these political initiatives may help resolve this conflict. But a political solution alone cannot guarantee a lasting solution," said the FOCCESA chairperson.

The churches and ecumenical organisations meeting took place following and parallel to some political initiatives and consultations at the levels of SADC, OAU and NAM.

Although the primary purpose of the meeting was to discuss the crisis in the DRC, the participants found time to share information on the troubled spots of Angola, which has been fighting a rebellion since 1975 and Lesotho which has lately been a conflict zone following opposition parties' dispute of the May 1998 general election results.

Presenting a background paper, Rev. Daniel Ntoni-Nzinga, a representative of the AFSC noted that the aim of the meeting was to initiate a region-wide analysis of the situation and for the religious communities to examine ways of contributing to the quest for peaceful solutions to the conflicts and in order to devise ways of active solidarity in the region.

To achieve this goal the meeting examined the present situation and identified the root causes of the conflicts in the DRC and within the SADC and suggested ways of addressing the problems. The participants also discussed the issues of governance that have contributed to the crisis in the DRC and examined the prophetic role the Church could play to resolve the conflict.

Following discussions in both plenary and in groups focusing on root causes, the prophetic role of the churches and issues of governance, the participants examined the implications of the conflict in the Great Lakes and SADC regions and suggested a plan of action to address the problems.

GROUP ONE - SADC region TASK - Arising from root causes already outlined, the issues of democratic governance and the prophetic function, discuss implications on the SADC and the wider African region. Suggest possible practical steps of action to meet those challenges

Problems of Governance - Exclusion of Groups from decision making - non availability of political options resulting in military options and/or puppet governments - lack of moral authority; hypocrisy - inability of State to address internal problems - corruption - unfulfilled expectations and promises, - abuse of power - leaders usurping the mandate of the people

Prophetic Role of the Church - Need for declaring and proclaiming God's will to the times - Need for a predictive element by studying trends in the region - Need for working and experiencing God's Kingdom on earth - Need for speaking the truth in love - Need for understanding our moral authority and power of our constituency - Need for a critical role of prophecy; encourage, denounce and reconstruct - Need for dealing with hurt feelings wisely; understanding and analysing - Need for non-partisan standing of the Church (addressing issues and not parties and personalities) - Need for the Church to stand as agents of unity and reconciliation - Need for power of prayer - Need for a teaching ministry - Need for a holistic ministry - soul, mind and body - Need for an ecumenical outreach - Need for self sustenance of the Church

Implications on the SADC region - disunity among members of SADC - competing ideologies and/or spheres of influence/power/interests - tendency to distort or cover up the real issues e.g. use and misuse of genocide, personalizing issues, exporting internal problems into other territories - challenging the established structures within SADC e.g. military intervention protocol - hunger for power, expansionism, bigger brother syndrome - Western influence on groups in the SADC; similar challenges to FOCCESA by ecumenical partners - diversion of economic focus/priorities of SADC - Role of South Africa as supplier of military hardware to the Lakes region needs to be discussed - marginalisation of minority groups in SADC region is likely to lead to more serious conflicts - danger of SADC leaders becoming another belligerent club - xenophobia syndrome is exercebated as economic conditions worsen

PLAN OF ACTION - Church policy monitors/analysts on all sections of regional and national groupings. e.g. SADC COMESA, EAC, OAU, as a matter of priority, e.g. military expenditure Implementation: National Council of Churches, Churches, Ecumenical bodies - create mediation teams for rapid response to crisis situation currently prevailing - Increased information sharing within the region - Deputation team to DRC - solidarity, fact finding, explore possibilities for dialogue and reconciliation - unearthing and addressing seeds of conflict - facilitate a training workshop in mediation and conflict resolution as a matter of priority - 1999 Implementation: AACC and FOCCESA - urge National Council of Churches to continue on civic education - urge all heads of state to seek diplomatic rather than military solutions

GROUP TWO - Great Lakes region TASK - Arising from the Root Causes, Problems of Governance and the Prophetic function, discuss implications on the Great Lakes region. Suggest possible practical action to address these implications.

Root Causes - identity problems in DRC of Congolese of Rwandese origin - problems of integration/exclusion - lack of protection and security - lack of democratic process for problem solving - international community's hidden agenda and double standards - exportation of ideology of genocide - military options as the easy answer - political opportunism - using situations across borders to political advantage

Other Contributions to tensions in Great Lakes and East Africa region - Nairobi bombings: Christian-Moslem tensions; Kenyan government restricting refugees and other foreigners; anti - foreigner public sentiment - Economic rivalry: Asian relations threatened - Treaty for economic/political cooperation between Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi may now be postponed due to DRC war which has separated Kenya from others. In principal, a federation would be formed. Misinterpretations of this as ethnic empire building - ethnic alliances between people in governments of various countries sustain the instability in the region and cause exportation of genocide, exclude others from democratic processes and security - Clinton's visit gave US endorsement of the "new generation" statesmen, creating further division. US is using this for their battle against Islamic fundamentalism - Eritrea-Ethiopia rift and Tanzania-Rwanda rift may threaten this club of the "new generation statesmen". - US intelligence and military use of Kenya influences the weight of Moi in the region.

PLAN OF ACTION - Appoint a team to visit key state leaders to present the churches' concerns and stance and hear their reasoning and give advice. Also to visit religious leaders in those countries to hear their interpretation and support their advocacy, prophetic role. Start with DRC. - Reactivate the plan launched in November 1996 for a meeting of Great Lakes church leaders with their political leaders. (Don't wait until WCC General Assembly has passed!) - Convey to the US and French Churches our concerns about their presence (through missionaries, etc.) in the region and their dialogue with their government and its influence (negative and positive) their meaningful solidarity, etc. - Improve communication between churches in the Great Lakes Core Group - Identify a mechanism within the core group to disseminate information and interpret events on a regular basis for use by churches in the rest of the continent for prayer and advocacy work - Support statement calling for removing Hutu/Tutsi specific language naming where it is unhelpful and stereotyping/categorising - Urge churches in DRC to preach/counsel peace and reconciliation. Focus on youth who are "used" to counter culture of militarism - Urge DRC government to immediately solve identity crisis in DRC - Encourage the DRC churches which already started discussion of identity problems to renew and sustain their efforts. - Call on invaders to live - Call on invading countries to address problems of security from within their own countries.

Final Communique of the Emergency meeting on the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo

We, the representatives of the churches and ecumenical organizations in southern Africa and the Great Lakes Region held an emergency meeting in Lusaka from 7 - 10 September 1998 on the current situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The meeting was convened by the Fellowship of Councils of Churches of Eastern and Southern Africa and the All Africa Conference of Churches in collaboration with the American Friends Service Committee, World Council of Churches and hosted by the Christian Council of Zambia. Among the 25 participants were also representatives from the Evangelical Fellowships of Zimbabwe and Zambia and the (Catholic) Episcopal Conference of Zambia, Southern Africa Churches in Ministry with Uprooted People and the Lutheran World Federation.

Having analysed critically the conflict in the DRC and its implications on the wider region, and having considered the interpretation of the situation by the churches of the DRC, we noted that the conflict has two dimensions, namely, internal conflict and external aggression. We established that the root causes of these dimensions were insecurity, issues of identity, poor governance, political opportunism with its military options, and selfish economic interests.

In the case of the DRC insecurity brought about by unresolved conflicts arises from the legacy of the previous regime and unsolved problems by the current government. This situation has been exacerbated by the presence in the DRC of armed groups from neighbouring countries who are seen to pose a security problem to their home countries. These armed groups have become a pretext for invasion of the DRC by neighbouring countries such as Uganda and Rwanda. The problem is further compounded by the emerging trend of exporting internal conflict to other countries through aggression and support of rebels as is the case in the DRC.

There are serious questions of ethnic and national identity. These are not unique to the DRC, yet it is important that the country addresses the issue of its own integration for the sake of future peace and stability.

Fifteen months after the departure of the previous regime the issue of democratic governance has not been seriously addressed. Instead of political dialogue and consensus building the current political process has perpetuated exclusion and marginalisation. This has provided fertile ground for political opportunism to take root, as the misuse of ethnic diversity clearly demonstrates. Outside forces have taken advantage of the internal weaknesses in the DRC to promote their own selfish economic interests at the expense of the life, dignity and sovereignty of the people of the DRC.

As the church of Jesus Christ, our mandate stems from the Biblical imperative to proclaim the sacredness of life, and uphold justice with mercy by speaking the truth in love. We are concerned that under the culture of violence that prevails in the region, lives and property are being destroyed and economic resources wasted. At a time when the DRC and other countries in the region need resources for the health and education of their people and reconstruction of their infrastructure, they are directed to the financing of war.

We appeal to the churches and other faith communities, the political leadership and the people of the DRC to do everything in their power to bring an immediate end to the war, to embark on a process of reconciliation through dialogue, and promote consensus on the issues that affect the welfare of the people and the state, including safeguarding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the DRC.

We appeal to our churches, communities of other faiths and international partners to stand for the truth and to influence their own constituents and governments to promote policies that affirm the value of life, peace with justice, and integrity of creation.

We appeal to the countries in the region to seek just and sustainable solutions to the existing problems through dialogue, not military force.

We call upon invaders to leave the DRC and let the people of that country sort out their internal problems peacefully. We call upon the invading countries to address their security problems from within their own borders.

We call upon the member states of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to adopt a cohesive approach towards the issues affecting the region through consultation and consensus building in their decision making.

We appeal to the churches of Southern Africa and the Great Lakes region to actively monitor and influence developments in order to pre-empt situations of tension and conflict.

LIST OF PARTICIPANTS

H.D.U. Nkhoma, Bauleni Reformed Churches in Zambia, Box 51171, Lusaka, Zambia

Japhet Ndhlovu, Reformed Church in Zambia, P.O. Box 32301, Lusaka, Zambia,
Tel. (01) 231206, Fax 224308, E-mail: njaphet@zamtel.zm

Violet Sampa-Bredt, Christian Council of Zambia, P.O. Box 30315, Lusaka, Zambia,
Tel. 224308

Fackson Banda, Christian Council of Zambia, P. O. Box 30315, Lusaka, Zambia,
229551/ 224622, E-mail: ccz@zamnet.zm

Enock Masuhwa, Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia, Box 31981, Lusaka, Zambia,
Tel. 291876

John H. Mambo, Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia, P.O. Box 31337, Lusaka, Zambia,
Tel. 245526, Fax. 245469

Rt. Rev. Leonard Mwenda, Bishop of Lusaka, P.O. Box 30183, Lusaka, Zambia,
Tel. 253467

Andre Karamaga, Presbyterian Church in Rwanda, P.O. Box 56, Kigali,
Tel/Fax (250) 76929

Lucas Amosse, Christian Council of Mozambique, P.O. Box 108, Maputo, Mozambique,
Tel 258-1-425102, Fax 258-1-421968, E-mail: amosse@isl.co.mz

Daniel Ntoni-Nzinga, AFSC Quakers International Affairs Programme, P.O. Box 4921 Johannesburg 2000,
Tel 27-11-8384807, Fax 5387139

Tendai Chikuku-Nyahoda, EDICESA, P.O. Box H. 94 Hatfield, Harare, Zimbabwe,
Tel 263-4-570311/570311, Fax 572979, E-mail: edicesa@mango.zw

Richard Chidowore, EDICESA, P.O. Box H.94, Hatfield, Harare, Zimbabwe,
Tel. 263-4-570312/572958, Fax: 572979

Rev. E. Chomutiri, Reformed Church in Zimbabwe, Box 670, Masvingo, Zimbabwe,
Tel 63332

Densen Mafinyani, Zimbabwe Council of Churches, P.O. Box 3866, Harare,
Tel 773654, Fax 773650

Patson Netha, Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, P.O. Box 2803, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe,
Tel. 263 9 74922, Fax 68179

Shirley DeWolf, Southern African Churches in Ministry with Uprooted People, Box 926, Mutare, Zimbabwe,
Tel. 263-20-66923, Fax. 60494

Ngeno Nakamhela, Council of Churches in Namibia, Box 41, Windhoek, Namibia,
Tel 00264-61-217621, Fax. 262786

Ngoy Mulunda-Nyanga, AACC, Box 14205, Nairobi,
Tel. 441483, Fax. 443241

Karimi Kinoti, C/O NCCK, P. O. Box 45009, Nairobi, Kenya,
Tel. 338284, Fax. 224463

Dr. Peter Bissem, NCCK, P.O. Box 45009, Nairobi, Kenya,
Tel. 254-2-215560/ 217760

Kitobo Kabwe ka Leza, CCKC/C.C.C./Rataya, P.O. Box 2809, Lubumbashi, DR Congo

Maria B. Mbelu, Council of Swaziland Churches, Box 1095, Manzini, Swaziland,
Tel 53628, Fax 55841

Ishmael M. Mqathazane, Christian Council of Lesotho, Maseru, Lesotho,
Tel. 313639

Rev. Osias Habingabwa, National Council of Churches of Burundi, P.O. Box 17, Bujumbura,
Tel (257) 224216/ 227941, Fax. 227941

Augustine Musopole, Malawi Council of Churches, P.O. Box 300068, Lilongwe 3, Malawi,
Tel. 783 499/782107, Fax. 783106


This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.


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