WINDHOEK – Outgoing Democratic Republic of Congo (DCR) President Joseph Kabila has commended former presidents Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba for having shared their experience and wisdom with him over the last 17 years.
Kabila, who last week announced he will not stand in the election scheduled for December, expressed his gratitude during his farewell speech at the official opening of the 38th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government here on Friday.
The youthful leader who has ruled the mineral-rich country refused to step down after his term expired in 2016 that resulted in election delays and sparked fears of a major conflict in the DRC.
Namibia in 1998 sent some 2,000 soldiers to the DRC - alongside the more substantial forces of regional allies Angola and Zimbabwe - to prop up the government against Rwandan and Ugandan-backed rebels.
In the streets of Kinshasa there is a saying: “Namibia-Congo moto moko”, meaning “Namibia and Congo are one people”.
The allied forces - ostensibly under the mandate of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) - did succeed in preventing the rebels from taking over.
“I thank all the former heads of state from the SADC region, three of whom are present in this room, thank you for the opportunity and the honour for having shared with me your experience and wisdom over the last 17 years and that’s former President Nujoma, former President Chisano and former President Pohamba and all those who are not here,” said Kabila.
Former president of Mozambique Joaquim Chisano and Namibia’s Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba were all in attendance. Kabila also thanked current regional leaders who made his work as president of DRC easy, saying he was also grateful to those who made it a little difficult.
“Since I do not like farewells, I will not say goodbye today – but rather see you soon,” said the cheerful Kabila during his 11-minute address.
“I am not sure who is going to miss who. Am I going to miss you or are you going to miss me?” Kabila quipped rhetorically.