FIB must not be tampered with: SADC

By ZBC Reporter
THE SADC organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation which is chaired by President Emmerson Mnangagwa has reiterated the regional organisation’s position that the force intervention brigade deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo should not be tampered with, calling on the United Nations secretary-general to convene a consultative meeting with SADC so as to come up with a mutually agreed position.
The provinces of North and South Kivu, as well as parts of eastern DRC, generated a multitude of armed groups over the past two decades. These are the areas where the Congo wars began with ethnic violence in 1993, and it is here that challenges to stability in the country persisted until the intervention of various players including SADC which has played a very critical role in efforts to bring lasting peace to the DRC.
In 2013 SADC established a regional peacekeeping force called force intervention brigade (FIB). The FIB comprise troops from three SADC countries namely Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa. the FIB has already recorded notable successes, particularly the surrender of the M23 rebel movement.
This Wednesday President Emmerson Mnangagwa who chairs the SADC organ on politics, defence and security cooperation convened a virtual summit of the troika plus force intervention brigade troop-contributing countries and the DRC. The summit was convened to discuss a proposal brought forward by the United Nations to reconfigure the force intervention brigade. In his opening speech, President Mnangagwa said regional cooperation remains important to achieving peace in the entire region.
It was noted that the FIB has contributed significantly to the stability and security in DRC and there was a need to ensure that the FIB remains an effective defence capability supporting UN interventions. That the region has remained calm and peaceful, notwithstanding pocketed security challenges resulting from acts of terrorism by the negative forces and attacks by insurgents, mainly in the Eastern parts of the DRC, and in the Cabo Delgado Province in Mozambique.
After deliberations with the other heads of state, President Mnangagwa called for continued and pragmatic engagement with the UN to reiterate SADC’s position to the reconfiguration of the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), particularly in relation to the proposal to replace one FIB battalion with a composite battalion to include non-SADC countries.
SADC Executive Secretary, Stergomena Lawrence tax expressed concern that the proposal by the UN had the capability of undermining the operational effectiveness and unity of command and control of the FIB.
The summit was attended by six heads of state, Botswana president, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, the incoming chairperson of the troika, President Edgar Lungu of Zambia, the outgoing chairperson of the troika, President Felix Tshisekedi of DRC, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi being countries that are contributing troops to the FIB and Tanzania which was represented by its minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, as well as SADC Executive Secretary Stergomena Lawrence tax.
The FIB was authorized by the United Nations Security Council on 28 March 2013 through Resolution 2098. On 19 November 2019, the United Nation Security Council adopted Resolution 2502 of 2019 which extended for a year and maintained that the FIB to continue protecting civilians and support the stabilisation and strengthening of DRC state institutions.