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DRC: What To Do? Experts’ Views

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.
  • What to do.

There are two types of approaches in defining what to do: selfish interests and common good

 Selfish interests

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:
  1. Obtain by any mean possible a formal condemnation of Rwanda and Uganda by UN Security Council.
  2. Declare war on Rwanda first and if successful, on  Uganda
  3. 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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ndayeman August 29, 2012, 5:25 pm

    I often hear some analysts justify the Rwanda sponsored rebellions in east DRC as a consequence of DRC treating some of its people as second class people. What truth is in this? What are the facts to support such accusations? What does the average citizen in DRC do or own that is not permitted to these unhappy ethnics of Rwanda origins?

    Looking at the DRC military, the ethnic Tutsi itself counts 10 Generals, 19 colonels, 300 captains…In the central Government they have 2 vice ministers and 2 Senators in the parliament, not to mention a couple of CEOs of National companies. This fact alone contradicts the notion that this ethnic is made of second class citizens. Second zone citizens do not seat in the government.

    DR Congo is made of 400 plus ethnic groups that live in harmony because of the sense of belonging, hope and faith in the same future, with their entire loyalty to the only nation they have: DRC.
    For most of these ethnic groups in DRC, there is a clear difference between ethnicity and citizenship. The notion of second class citizens is imported from Eastern neighbouring countries such as Rwanda,Burundi.

    Historically in those countries, the majority of hutus were looked down upon by the minority of Tutsis in the monarchy. Such distinctions do not exist in DRC where all ethnic are equal and struggle together for a brighter future. Regardless of a person ethnic origin, the laws must apply. There should be no impunity based on ethnicity. Neither can we afford a single ethnic dominate the whole nation. The DRC has 9 neighbours with ethnic groups spanning across those borders. We don’t hear those kind of complaints because in all those countries, the people tolerate each other with no “superiority” mentality.

    The future for peace in the Great Lakes region will depend on the total rejection of the idea of any ethnic groups being superior to others, and threrefore always claiming the role of ruling others. People are created equal and have equal abilities to contribute to the advancement of their society.
    Policies in nations should be governed by the notion of citizenship and not ethnicity which justifies meddling. Citizenship must entail rights but also responsibility, thus prosecuting any non law abiding citizens, including minorities.

  • BUHURA August 24, 2012, 10:06 pm

    Thanks for analysis which deserve credit for its role as trigger of more discussion on east DRC crisis that have impact on peace and stability in great lakes region. However, my view is different to some extent due to long experience with conflict in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and DRC. There is no war without cause worth self sacrifise, war is last resort action to solve conflict for any reasonable man “Zero Option”. Right cause determin eventual winner of any war, that is why US failed in Asia and Somalia and many war for indepence in Africa were worn against powerful colonial masters. Some times nations have attacked others to end the eminent trouble making in another country… but this never make a reliable revolution as it was not from concerned people (Kabila, Obote II,… always such opportunity go to opportunist leaders who end up applying the same colonial stragegy of devide and rule. Rwanda and Uganda failed in Congo twice don’t forget Tanzania in Uganda after overflow of Amin, Nyerere’s TPDF supported Obote to be disappointed and diverted support to Museveni rebelion (NRM). The point is clear foreign nations can help when they can help focused movement. That is how ANC(Azania), SWAPO (Namibia), FRELIMO, ZANU PF, NRM (Uganda), RFP (rwanda) among many including SPLM of southern Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia etc., something was wrong and we can not deny the fact that there have been progress like it or not…Nations are built by defining its identity. African Boundaries are still haunting us, before talking about Rwanda and Congo, look Ivory Cost ‘ivority’ and harm it caused to Burkina Faso and Mali…if you believe Bagbo was right, then you can conclude that Kabila have right to treaty some of congolese as second class citizen. The current regime in Kigali was a result of pre Genocide regimes in Rwanda that denied citizenship right to her people. It is not about being organized by outside influence, that is misconception of the pan african liberation….on move. The issue is that African we are becaming less interested in positive analysis and we end up building unnecessary scenes without gauging its negative impact on African in the conflict zone. A kind of negative side analysis, we learn this from Hollywood firms selfish. The issue of Rwanda being looked as ruled by minority tutsi, small country, under US protection, poor etc…and on other side DRC as Big reach cauntry, mineral rich and all its problems are caused by others. This dominant view is poison to Congo people as its relives themselves of any responsibility..scapegoat. I credit analyist to have noticed this though not at its real weight.
    To politicians i have always advised them to avoid any thing that can result in making any person homeless…no man will be denied right to citizenship in his mother land and just keep silent…Bob Marley said..Slave driver the table is turning, catch a fire you gonna get burn. Its like you close a room and start bitting a cat.
    This question of minority which is based on tribe/race is the real killer of Africa. Rights and power and nationality is legitimate if it is about majority tribe in power. Congo (DRC) will not be congo (DRC) without Kinyarwanda speaking citizen call them, positively i believe that if DRC can manage to act as effective state not as it is now all rebels will end as they will not find a graund for more recruitment. Corruption, Injustice, Irresponsible institutions…lack of nation vision are the real enemy of DRC..if some people does not know who is a Congolese … the regime in Kinshasha should be able to control its territory by providing protection to all people in its territory…no excuse for this. I am sorry to say this truth to those who amy be injured…but its honestly criticism.
    I don’t know how we are fooled to believe that DRC is rich yet weak with unorganized citizens who can’t see how corrupt politicians can manage to avoid blame of what is happening in Congo by pretence of foreign forces despite having over 19000 UN troops on government side…its a shame to African. Once again we seem to have unconsciously accepted the racist concept of weak less inteligent african race to be excuse for DRC. DRC is a victim of circumstances that are interconnected but which can be solved by Congolese who cannot disregard minority rights. Even if others play role in your problems criticise yourself on having allowed then sometimes mistakenly to became enemies. Never give a reason to who ever you percieve as your a enemy to stay as enemy, sometimes we aggravate confrict by sentimental arguments.
    To manage the crisis and go forward we should Stop blaming others and orgtanize strong institutions that ensure equal rights and justice to All in the terriroty of Democratic Republic of Congo… lets stop creation of unnecessary enemies.
    I don’t know if real Rwandan or Ugandan or Burundian, Angolan, Zimbabwean don’t contribute to existing conflict but something is wrong with blame game. Why a man invite vilain in his home? every rebel in the region oparate in DRC, mayi mayi, M23, FDRL, Konyi, Darfur rebels, ADF, Burundins FNL etc…that is enough shame to any government.

  • Laurent Desire Kabila August 24, 2012, 6:59 am

    As long as Congo will accept these tutsi infiltrate, there will never be strong institutions in DR Congo. That is the job of the tutsis in DR Congo. These guys are serving and will always serve Rwanda. So, all solution that will include the in the Congolese picture will remain empty and weak.

  • Laurent Desire Kabila August 24, 2012, 6:54 am

    I agree with everything. But the problem is that, these experts did not elaborate on the causes of the weakness of the DR Congo’s institutions. This already, remain the poison in the solution!!! It all boils down to the infiltration of rwandan tusis into the congolese institutions. This is the cause that will continue to weaken the DR Congo as these infiltrates have a well determined goal: REMEMBER “TROY”?