By Antoine Roger Lokongo from Pambazuka News
Published as a response to Dangerous Tales: False Media Narratives About the Conflict in Congo by Jean-Paul Kimonyo
Disclaimer: Articles by guest authors may not be unbiased
Despite the fact that Pan-Africanism is considered by France as a “threat to Western interests in Africa”, as a French defense report indicated in October 2012, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which is Patrice Lumumba’s land of birth, will always remain a “hotbed” of Pan-Africanism whose main attributes are African solidarity and hospitality. This explains why whenever Tutsi and Hutu have taken turns to slaughter each other in Rwanda or Burundi, the DRC has always welcomed both Tutsi and Hutu refugees alike with open arms. Bosco Ntaganda is just one of the beneficiaries of such hospitality. But now the Congolese people are paying a heavy price for their hospitality.
Pan-Africanism does not mean fellow Africans coming to Congo to wage war on the Congolese so as to cleverly deprive the Congolese of their land and their natural resources through rape as a weapon of war and genocide with the backing of western powers. True Africans do not kill each other, not in Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi or in other African countries. True Africans do not give in to “Western divide and rule” policy and subject each other to genocide. True Africans are able to say “NO” to Western machinations in Africa. Hence the importance of African ideological, political, economic and social unity.
1. NTAGANDA IS NOT CONGOLESE
Although Africans holds a communitarian worldview, in each village every family builds its own house out of which the sharing takes place. As an African, I always say, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa (taken as an examples) are my other houses. My own house is Congo. I have always said that Ntaganda is not a Congolese, not because I am anti-Tutsi but because this is a fact and he and his fellow Rwandans, Hutu and Tutsi alike, who fled ethnic strife in Rwanda are spitting on the hand that is feeding them or cutting the tree branch on which they are sitting.
Pan-Africanism does not mean condoning criminal behavior and untruth. If Congo with its fertile lands, waterfalls (hydropower potential), forests, natural and mineral resources, fauna and flora, rich cultural diversity, benign climate, geostrategic position in the heart of Africa succeeds, the whole of Africa will. Why can’t Rwandans and Ugandans understand and believe this instead of playing the role of western powers’ dogs of war? Yes, there is corruption in Congo, so it is in Rwanda and Uganda. The truth is corruption in any African country automatically affects other African countries. Narrow, mono-ethnic and corrupt type of governance in Rwanda and Uganda is automatically affecting the whole region of the Great Lakes. So if each country does its own homework, Africa will soon become a paradise.
Anyway, for now, if you do not believe me, believe at least the 15 May 2012 BBC report according to which Bosco Ntaganda was born in 1973 in Kiningi, a small town on the foothills of Rwanda’s Virunga mountain range, famous for its gorillas; not because I rely on the BBC, but because the report lends support to what I have always said. Moreover, the Kagame regime which backs Ntaganda is backed by Britain and America; that makes this BBC report very unexpected and Jean-Paul Kimonyo should not just rejoice when the truth suits him and loudly denounce the so-called “blaming Rwanda narratives” and “discrimination against the Tutsi in eastern Congo” when the truth does not suit him.
If the Tutsi are discriminated against in the DRC, how come Nkundabatware and Ntaganda became generals in the Congolese army and Ruberwa became a vice-president in Congo? Goma is now completely destroyed. Does Jean-Paul Kimonyo call the acts of looting, raping, killing, fighting, a noble cause for democracy and inclusiveness? No, that is barbarism and savagery! In fact, the Bongando people of the DRC have a saying which goes that, “If a parrot which comes from a far away land perches on your mango tree, it will not spare any of your mangoes. It will cut them all, even those which are not ripe yet”.
This rings true! The BBC reported that as a teenager, Ntaganda fled to Ngungu, in eastern DR Congo, following attacks on fellow ethnic Tutsis in Rwanda. He attended secondary school there – but did not graduate. In 1990, at the age of 17, he joined the Rwandan Patriotic Front rebels in southern Uganda. He fought, under the command of RPF leader – now Rwandan President – Paul Kagame, to end the genocide. After Rwandan unrest spilled over into DR Congo, he started to flip between fighting rebellions and serving in national armies – both Rwandan and Congolese. In 2002, he joined the rebel Union of Congolese Patriots in the Ituri district – and spent the next three years as Thomas Lubanga’s chief of military operations.
Ntaganda then joined yet another rebel group – the CNDP – under the leadership of Laurent Nkunda, a key power-broker in the east of the country who, like Gen Ntaganda, had started his military career in the Rwandan rebel force led by Kagame. With the backing of Rwanda, he went on to overthrew Gen Nkunda and took over the leadership of the CNDP militia. Despite being wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes, by 2009 Ntaganda was soldiering on the side of President Kabila – and was promoted to general. He was based in Goma, where he was in charge of up to 50,000 soldiers, many of them former rebels who remained personally loyal to him. According to a UN investigation, Ntaganda has built a lucrative business empire for himself in North and South Kivu – reportedly collecting taxes from mines controlled by the soldiers under his command, charcoal markets and illegal checkpoints.
2. WHAT IS M23?
The so called “M23 rebellion” traces its roots back to a peace deal signed on March 23, 2009 by the Congolese government and the “Congolese Tutsi” National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) and 30 other armed groups operating in eastern Congo. The CNDP was not the only one but it gained notoriety because it was a Rwandan-backed rebel group largely made up of former “Tutsi Congolese” soldiers who began an armed “rebellion” (just agitate that Tutsi face another genocide and everything immediately goes. What about the genocide the Rwandans, Hutu and Tutsi alike, have committed and still commit in Congo?) . But then the CNDP accepted a government offer to let them become a political party and integrate their troops back into the Congolese army.
Now, three years later, a faction of the “Congolese Tutsi” mutineers say that the government isn’t keeping its promises and has renewed the uprising in the form of the M23 rebellion. They’ve so far been fighting for control of the resource-rich North Kivu region, where Goma is a provincial capital.
3. SO FAR NO UPRISING AGAINST JOSEPH KABILA
I do not work for the government of Congo. But I can see that if Joseph Kabila was not properly elected by the Congolese people, the M23 would already be in Kinshasa now. But so far there is no uprising against Joseph Kabila. Instead, the “Congolese Tutsi” change their demands and claims like the weather. First they were fighting for citizenship. After the citizenship was granted, they said they were fighting to eliminate the Hutu genocidists who represent a security threat to Rwanda. After the Hutu genocidists were almost completely neutralized, they changed their version again. They said they were fighting because other Congolese were excluding them.
After appointing them to top ranks in the army and government, the war did not end and they did NOT want to serve in other parts of Congo other than near the Rwandan border and gold and coltan mines. They changed their version yet again and said they were fighting for good governance. After the international community suspended all budgetary support for Rwanda and Uganda for lack of good governance, corruption and abuse of human rights (a Rwandan opposition leader and president of the Green party was beheaded not long ago in Rwanda), now they are saying they are better off administering eastern Congo by themselves. That is going too far, the unacceptable balkanization of the DRC.
4. NOT TUTSI VULNERABLE IN CONGO, CONGOLESE ARE
The Tutsi have been the perpetrators of a genocide in Congo. It is unacceptable for them to use blackmail so as to entice the international community to sweep the crimes they have committed in Congo under the carpet and make themselves the untouchables – including Ntaganda who is wanted for crimes against humanity – and continue to loot the wealth of Congo, rape, kill, occupy land from which Congolese have been forcefully removed. Numerous UN Security Council reports have ascertained this and the fact that Rwanda now sits in the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member could not be more ironical.
5. DOES UN WANT TO MAKE WAR IN CONGO?
We say the UN is an accomplice in the Rwandan and Ugandan war against Congo, backed by Britain and America. Despite the fact that Goma airport is still controlled by MONUSCO, the latter could not hide their complicity with Tutsi insurgents. MONUSCO did not engage M23 in battle in Goma, according to a South African soldier who did not give his name.
“We [MONUSCO] have had no trouble with M23, to be honest,” he said (Pete Jones and David Smith 2012). That tells it all and justifies current protests throughout Congo against MONUSCO’s presence.
The African Union’s position also remains ambiguous. The AU Commission chair Dlamini-Zuma, speaking in Washington after meeting Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, said “finger pointing” at Rwanda was not helpful, Reuters reported on 28 November 2012. Who does not know that Rwanda’s implication is not a secret? According to the BBC, Rwanda even wanted to open new rebel front in South Kivu to demoralize the Congolese government (BBC, 29 November 2012 ).
6. IS KAGAME COMPARING HIMSELF TO SADDAM?
First of all, Rwanda is now part of the UN system. Yet Rwanda strongly opposes a recent proposal by the UN that it would use surveillance drones to monitor the security situation along the border between Rwanda and Congo. In an article published by the News Of Rwanda on 11 January 2013, the American-backed Kagame regime went even so far as accusing America and other major powers of having used drones to surreptitiously to collect intelligence on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s military; one of the reasons why developing countries oppose any attempt to have drones hovering above their territories.
Is Kagame comparing himself to Saddam Hussein? We know how Saddam Hussein ended: an ally of America turned an enemy of America. Western powers do not have permanent friends, they only have permanent interests. Mobutu came to the realization of this truth only weeks before he was overthrown. Kagame should use this time to make this truth sink in his heart and mind.
Second, we find it very strange! If Kigali reckons that eastern Congo-based Hutu genocidists still represent a security threat to Rwanda, why wouldn’t Kagame welcome the use of drones to monitor their movement?
Third, if drones are equipped with infrared technology which can detect troops hidden beneath forest canopy or operating at night, allowing them to track movements of armed militias, assist patrols heading into hostile territory and document atrocities, and they are about 150 miles and are able to hover for up to 12 hours at a time, then Kagame used almost the same methods to capture Goma recently, after deploying several battalions of fighters, well equipped with GPS and night-vision equipment allowing them to fight at night, including the googles as well as 120 mm mortars (some say American made) who captured Goma and dislodged the Congolese army after a stiff resistance.
Is Kagame afraid that the same methods would be used against him or help capture Bosco Ntaganda by identifying his whereabouts? But then why would this happen to Kagame since Rwanda has now become the “CIA listening post” in the region from a station built on top of Mount Karisimbi? Well, maybe Kagame’s days are numbered if we are to believe American investigative journalist Howard French, who, on 14 January 2013, explained in an article published in the Newsweek Magazine “why the celebrated Rwandan president really deserves an indictment!”.
“Will Rwanda explode again?” asks Howard French, concluding that, “the big, looming issue is whether Kagame will leave office in 2017, as the Constitution calls for. With so much to answer for, few expect a straightforward exit”. Let us wait and see!