Our article titled: “DRC: What is Wrong With Raymond Tshibanga and Lambert Mende’s Diplomacy and Communication” has generated a lot of noise in Kinshasa and quite a lot of e-mails and comments. Several e-mails asked AfroAmerica Network to make recommendations and outline what to do instead of always pointing to what is wrong. A lot of our readers appreciated the analysis contained in our articles and the balance in the content. However a few vocal readers felt that AfroAmerica Network was too hard on the DRC Government and not tough enough on the aggressors, meaning Rwanda and Uganda. Yet, another small set of readers said AfroAmerica Network was too aggressive when it came to Rwanda and chose to ignore the responsibility of the DRC Government in the crises in Eastern DRC.
AfroAmerica is a News Medium and Leaves the Rest to Experts and Analysts
Let us be straight: AfroAmerica Network is a news medium and tries to give the facts as they are known without taking sides, proposing solutions, or making recommendations. Sometimes, AfroAmerica Network gets the help of experts who can provide their views. This what we could do in this instance to address the concerns of and the requests from our readers: We asked our experts on the Great Lakes region of Africa to do their analysis and propose solutions.
In the following paragraphs , we summarize the positions of the experts.
Experts’ Views on What Has To Be Done About the Conflict in DRC
What are the cause of the conflicts.
The position is unanimous: the root causes of the conflict i Eastern DRC are the ineptitude of the successive regimes in DRC and Rwanda from the independence to date and the unresolved issues of the Rwandan crisis of the early 1990s. Some pointed to the coveted resources of the DRC by Rwandan leaders and multinational companies, but we found that if this were true, then what makes it possible is the fragility or the lack of reliable institutions in DRC, hence the ineptitude of DRC leaders.
What is the role of the DRC, Rwanda and Ugandan governments in aggravating the conflict.
DRC Government: the experts argue that DRC government has very weak institutions and appears to lack vision and a sense of purpose. These gaps create a vacuum, filled either by neighbors seeking their own interests or multinationals in search or raw materials.
Rwanda Government: Rwandan government appears to be driven by two motives: breathing space and insecurity. Rwanda is poor and DRC is rich. Rwandan leaders take advantage of DRC weak institutions to grab all the riches they can find. At the same time, Rwanda is led by a brutal despotic regime composed of a tiny minority within a minority. The tiny minority at the helm of the Rwandan government can only survive by maintaining a state of permanent insecurity around them. That allows them to repress any descent using the insecurity as an excuse.
Ugandan Government: there is a similitude between Rwandan and Ugandan Governments, although the repression in Uganda is less apparent and Uganda is richer than Rwanda. However the motives appear the same and the lack of democracy in both countries leads to the same behavior. Where Rwanda uses FDLR as an excuse, Uganda uses ADF. However, Rwanda also uses the Congolese Tutsis as another excuse and hence has readily made and available proxy militias and warlords. Ugandan does not have an ethnic group in DRC of its own and has to rely on disaffected Congolese leaders to rally proxy militias.
There are two types of approaches in defining what to do: selfish interests and common good
According to most experts, DRC is a country which is the envy of so many actors with their own shrewd interests. Hence, DRC leaders may also be tempted to appose their own shrewdness and claim their right place in the world arena. For example, with regard to the current conflict, DRC government may attempt three actions:
- Obtain by any mean possible a formal condemnation of Rwanda and Uganda by UN Security Council.
- Declare war on Rwanda first and if successful, on Uganda
- Declare that any country or corporation which does not cut aid to Rwanda and Uganda will not be allowed to conduct business in DRC. DRC has already the support of the USA, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Sweden, etc. The DRC leaders may leverage the support and put pressure on the remaining super powers.
Rwanda and Uganda can also pursue their own selfish interests.
Rwanda: Rwanda needs a breathing space for its growing population. Landlocked with limited resources and overcrowded, Rwanda is pressed by multiple challenges. The meet these challenges involves finding ways to reduce overcrowding and leverage the vast resources from its neighbors. Hence, the Rwandan Government may push forward with the invasion of Eastern DRC and accept the risk of a timid worldwide condemnation, which means taking the heat until the fire wanes. In a sense, that is what the Rwandan President General Paul Kagame appears to be doing and hoping to achieve. Following with that approach, Rwandan Defense Forces would occupy Eastern DRC and make it a South-Sudan type of country with Rwanda as its main backer.
Uganda: Uganda does not need a breathing space. Yet, the DRC resources and the economic rewards from having greater influence Eastern DRC remain attractive. Uganda’s economic interests could be achieved by placing in Eastern DRC Congolese leaders who are friendly to Uganda and willing to accommodate Ugandan interests. Ugandan Government appears to have decided that sponsoring disaffected DRC leaders is less costly and keeps them under the radar of the international community
Pursuing Common Interests and Good is more Rewarding than Aiming Selfish Goals
Unfortunately for Uganda, Rwanda and DRC, pursuing idiosyncratic selfish interests may not only provide short term rewards but can be, in the long run, a shot in the foot. Well thought out common interests appear to be definitely the best course of action.
The common interests may be articulated around reaching the following goals:
* DRC: territorial integrity and strong institutions
* Rwanda: breathing and economic space
* Uganda: economic interests
The three seemingly separate goals are actually linked and may present win-win opportunities. This requires that the three government genuinely work together and make sure the other parties understand and buy in in their goals.
Rwanda-Tanzania-Gabon Experiment Provides Lessons.
Belgian colonization was sending Rwandan and Burundian labor to the Congo, but that was done in the interest of Belgium not Rwandans or Congolese. A better example is what Rwandans initiated themselves. Former Rwandan leaders, especially the late Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana were visionary in that sense. The late Rwandan president signed agreements with Tanzania and Gabon, for these countries to take in Rwandan immigrants. Gabon and Tanzania got an industrious and cheap labor and Rwanda got space for its population. There was a common understanding that as soon as Rwandans emigrate to Tanzania or Gabon, they would become part of the social fabric of these countries.
Unfortunately, the initiative quickly faltered due to poor execution: Rwandan leaders did not explain the initiative to the candidates for expatriation. The Rwanda Government had also only sent peasants who did not have educated leaders to guide them and help them in the first months of transition. Tanzanian and Gabonese officials also failed to explain the initiative to their own constituents and local and traditional leaders. Local leaders and their subjects viewed the Rwandan emigrants as intruders and resented them.
Already after a few month, it was clear the initiatives had failed. Most of the first candidates to expatriation had returned to Rwanda after a year or two.
It may be time to revisit the experiment and this time focus on execution. DRC would accept an open immigration of Rwandans and Ugandans, and Rwanda and Uganda would be open to Congolese. Rwandans and Ugandans who want to invest in DRC would be welcome and given the same facilities as Congolese. Land acquisition will be allowed with the explicit agreement that Congolese customs and traditional institutions would be respected. Rwandans and Ugandan emigrants and the business people will also have to respect Congolese traditional authorities.
Requirements for Success.
To be successful in this endeavor the three governments must meet certain requirements.
DRC: DRC must have strong state institutions and a disciplined, lean, and well trained military. DRC must seek the help from the international community to clean up its corrupt bureaucracy, the judiciary, and the police and to strengthen its fledgling democracy.
Rwanda: The government in Rwanda is a brutal military dictatorship. Rwandan government must have a firm commitment to democracy and really show concrete proofs of democratizing its institutions and demilitarizing the state. Rwandan government must work with the DRC and the international community to peacefully resolve the issue of Rwandan refugees and rebel groups.
Uganda: Uganda is dictatorship in sunset. The days of the current regime appears numbered. However, it may be beneficial for the Ugandan leaders to engage on the path of democratization and peaceful resolution of the issue of its own rebellions.
Only then, peace, security and prosperity will be possible in the region. That is what should be done.