The buzz in Kinshasa is how robust and aggressive diplomatic initiatives by the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) against the Rwanda Governement have been lately. However, the reality is that blunders after blunders, cacophony and missteps have marred the action by the DRC government, that has failed to take advantage of the goodwill of the international community.
A Willing International Community.
To prove its successes, the DRC government has been pointing to the recent decisions by the United States of America,the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Great Britain, and others to suspend or review the financial and military aid given to Rwanda. To underline the point, the DRC Minister of Interior and Security Richard Muyej invited political parties with the aim to boast about the achievements. At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kinshasa, on August 16, 2012, in a room, known as the “Red Room”, packed by representatives of political parties allied with the DRC President, the Interior and Security Minister described to the audience what he called “the dazzling diplomacy vigorously conducted under the leadership of Joseph Kabila Kabange and that led to unparalleled successes and is supported by several countries and not least such as USA, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, … which almost cut cooperation with Rwanda, the tiny country that calls itself the Country of a Thousand Hills, that has no other resources than the international aid.” He was applauded by the audience, before he added the following: “The DRC government has thrown its weight behind the creation of a neutral force during the summit of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) held in Kinshasa and mediated by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, but Rwanda has vehemently opposed this principle. Because of Rwandan Government’s intransigence, the summit failed to reach its objectives.”
Hence, according to Minister Richard Muyej, despite the willingness of and the support from the International Community, the DRC Government stills needs the approval of Rwanda to defend its territory. Actually, the International Community has taken actions without and despite the DRC Government and the DRC government continues to lack leadership, vision, and fortitude to bring the initiative to its side.
Missteps, Blunders and Cacophony.
In our recent articles, AfroAmerica Network has described the serious diplomatic mistakes, missteps and cacophony created and entertained, intentionally or perhaps unwillingly, by DRC President Joseph Kabila and his government (see: here and here.
One participant to the August 16, 2012 meeting, only known as Tatcher, summarized the contradictions within the DRC Government when she asked the Interior and Security Minister how the DRC Government can accuse Rwandan Government of aggression and then have [Joseph Kabila] dine with [Paul Kagame] of Rwanda. She received wild applauses, which may indicate the frustration even with Joseph Kabila’s camp.
The Interior and Security Minister added even more confusion when he tried to explain the reasons for the M23 rebellion. He told the audience that:” the M23 rebellion was caused by two factors. The first is the indiscipline of officers and soldiers from ex-CNDP who flatly refused to join their new posts and the second is the embezzlement of pay or rations of soldiers that led to the discontent within the ranks of the FARDC.”
According to AfroAmerica Network reporters who were in the audience, most of the participants were shocked by the statements from the minister. The DRC Interior Security Minister flatly contradicted his own government, the United Nations, the USA, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Sweden, European Union and even the Rwandans themselves who overwhelmingly blame the conflict on the Rwandan Government and the Rwandan Defense Forces. Sources close to the DRC Foreign Affairs Minister Raymond Tshibanda and Communication Minister Lambert Mende told AfroAmerica Network that following the meeting, the two ministers called and harangued the Interior and Security Minister and later went to see President Joseph Kabila to complain about the cacophony in the Congolese diplomacy and public communication.
Raymond Tshibanda’s and Lambert Mende’s diplomatic and communication missteps do no help either.
Two DRC government ministers may be commanded for at least having the courage to point the finger to the Rwandan Government and accuse it of aggression: Foreign Affairs Minister Raymond Tshibanda and Communication Minister Lambert Mende. But, Lambert Mende recently made various serious diplomatic and communication mistakes, that may have tarnished his image.
The latest mistake happened during a Voice Of America (VOA) broadcast. Lambert Mende, a government minister, chose to have a debate with an obscure Rwandan staff within the Rwandan Embassy at the United Nations. The debate itself is not the issue: Lambert Mende dismantled the arguments of the low level Rwandan staff. The question is: Why did Communication Minister and Government Spokesperson not debate his Rwandan peer Louise Mushikiwabo, Foreign Affairs Minister and Rwandan Government spokeswoman. Why didn’t he instead also send a low level staff within the DRC Embassy at the UN, a Congolese staff with the same level as the Rwandan staff? Minister Lambert Mende descended several levels below, from Minister, to Vice-Minister, to Secretary General, to Ambassador, to the staff. Only desperation or amateurism may be behind such missteps and blunder in basic diplomacy.
By accepting such a debate, Lambert Mende, hence Raymond Tshibanga also broke the most elemental communication rule: balance. You can’t balance the intervention of a government Minister of a great country such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with that of an obscure bureaucrat within an embassy of a small country like Rwanda. Especially when there is an armed conflict between the two countries.
This simple incident may epitomize the dysfunction within the DRC diplomacy and public Communication.
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