Saturday, January 26, 2013

DR Congo: A response to Antoine Roger Lakongo


All Africa reports

Rwanda: The Tutsi Contradictions - a Response to Jean-Paul Kimonyo

                                                 Cartoon Radio Netherlands Worldwide 

BY ANTOINE ROGER LOKONGO, 24 JANUARY 2013

Rwanda's criminal involvement in the wanton violence in eastern DR Congo is neither deniable nor defensible. It is a sad irony that Rwanda now sits in the UN Security Council while aiding and abetting crimes against humanity
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.

I am unsure as to why France is getting it in the neck or quite what Patrice Lumumba has to do with the issue of Rwanda's ongoing bad behaviour in the DR Congo. Lumumba was the initial independence PM of the DR Congo his administration lasting just 12 weeks and ultimately ending with his execution at the instigation of Belgium.

" Dead, living, free, or in prison on the orders of the colonialists, it is not I who counts. It is the Congo, it is our people for whom independence has been transformed into a cage where we are regarded from the outside… History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history that Brussels, Paris, Washington, or the United Nations will teach, but that which they will teach in the countries emancipated from colonialism and its puppets... a history of glory and dignity." ----    Patrice Lumumba, October 1960 
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.

Actually it explains absolutely nothing at all, other than a very confused world view on the part of Lokongo.
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.

Nobody I know ever thought that that was the meaning of Pan Africanism. 


Pan-Africanism is an ideology and movement that encourages the solidarity of Africans worldwide. It is based on the belief that unity is vital to economic, social and political progress and aims to “unify and uplift” people of African descent.
The ideology asserts that the fates of all African peoples and countries are intertwined. At its core Pan-Africanism is “a belief that African peoples, both on the continent and in the Diaspora, share not merely a common history, but a common destiny
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.

It is difficult read this in any other way than an attempt to lay the blame for the genocide in Rwanda against the Tutsi and moderate Hutu's at the feet of the West. Many post colonial African problems can be laid quite fairly at the West's door but not exclusively and as for on going issues Africa needs to take control of her own destiny the blaming of colonial powers is wearing very thin well into the 21 century.
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.

A couple of points need to be made here, the West is blamed rightly for many of the arbitrary boundaries that exist in Africa so I would hesitate to contradict any individuals right or not to citizenship on those grounds alone. That said I know nothing of Ntaganda's ancestral connections to the DR Congo or Rwanda. The second point is that Ntanganda did spend his formative teenage years in the DR Congo. Lakongo seems to be questioning the citizenship of all Tutsi in the eastern DR Congo many who have been there for generations and have frequently married into other ethnic groups. 

Lakongo aught to know as I do from a first hand account of the ethnic cleansing and attempted ethnic cleansing of people of such descent ( Tutsi ) and the ongoing discrimination they face not just in the Eastern DR Congo but indeed in provinces further afield. Ask any of them how they fared  at the hands of FARDC, prior to the invasion of M23. 

Ntaganda's service in the Rwandan armed forces is certainly a factor in favour of the point that Lakongo makes.     
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?

Again Lakongo blames the West rather than place responsibility for the instability squarely where it belongs on the African actors in the central and eastern part of the continent. There is no doubt the West is a market for the resources he talks of as is China to add some further balance, but unlike the warring African factions the West is prepared to pay. The problem is who to pay and that is a DR Congo problem that must be solved ultimately by the DR Congo.  
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.

I have rarely read such rubbish as the last paragraph, enough said.
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.

I doubt any sane person debates this, as for the BBC you are an idiot to doubt or accept any person or organisation on the grounds of race alone. The BBC can stand on its reputation something that Lakongo can't and the way he is going here never will be able to do. Presenting facts accepted by all, as up for debate is intellectually dishonest.
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.

What the hell does Lakongo mean " the Kagame regime which backs Ntaganda is backed by Britain and America; that makes this BBC report very unexpected..." Again a totally unwarranted attack on the BBC but also the stupid assertion that Britain and America back the Kagame regime. They both recognise the government of Rwanda and both have suspended aid to Rwanda. Both Britain and the US recognise the government of the DR Congo and have not cut aid. Rwanda chose to leave the Francophone sphere of influence and join Commonwealth it is hardly surprising that Britain now looks to support Rwanda through aid.
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.

Tutsi are discriminated against, the reasons are complex. That "Nkundabatware and Ntaganda became generals in the Congolese army..." and walked away, might suggest that they perceive  there to be a problem.  That of course means that there is a problem with regard to discrimination, perception in politics is everything. As for the claim Goma is destroyed that is just bloody stupid. My sources as a Scottish born ,New Zealander are far better it would seem than  Mr Lakongo's.
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".

Yes once again we have a problem. I am assuming the looting, raping, killing, fighting referred to above are being laid at M23's door. The problem is that M23 arrived largely to late to get in a lot of Lakongo's allegations. FARDC whilst bravely fleeing  M23 made sure it got in its share of atrocities during the few days it had available to sack Goma.
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.

Yes it rings true because it is fucking true as far as I can tell. It advances the argument presented here not one sensible bit. 
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.

OK what we have is rambling, intellectually incompetent, if not dishonest attempt to highlight Rwandan maleficence in the DR Congo which is disputed by no one other than Rwanda anyway.   Ntaganda is not Congolese ? He certainly wasn't born in the DR Congo but citizenship is obtained by many means other than exclusively by birth. This question has not been conclusively answered by  Lakongo.   
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.

Well no not at all the roots go far deeper than the March 23 2009 peace deal it would be fare to say the name of the rebels comes from the peace deal though.
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.

I haven't got a clue what the bracketed statement means.
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.

This is largely common knowledge and I am sort of surprised that one could dispose of the identity of M23 in such a casual way. I am not arguing with what is said, I am saying it fails advance any understanding of the situation and is therefor pointless. 

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.

The questions over Kabila's election are huge. There can be little doubt that electoral fraud occurred to a degree that would have invalidated the result in many more stable democracy's. The reality is that the West have a lot invested not least prestige wise in the ultimate success of democracy in the DR Congo. 6 million deaths have started to register. There have been many uprisings against Kinshasa. This is from the International Crisis Group. 

Kabila during 2006 presidential campaign promised reconstruction of infrastructure and consolidation of democracy, but very little progress made since December 2006. Socio-economic situation has deteriorated in most of the country. Political pluralism has shrunk, with opposition virtually excluded from governorships despite performance in 2006 elections. Brutal police crackdown on political-cultural movement Bundu dia Kongo in Bas-Congo and a string of arbitrary arrests of activists, journalists and parliamentarians March 2009 have jeopardized free expression. 

Médecins Sans Frontières reported on yet another ongoing uprising in Katanga Province yesterday. Uprisings are in fact endemic in the Congo.
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.

All of this could of course be interpreted in an alternative way.
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.

Yes aid was suspended to both Uganda and Rwanda by some Western Governments. Uganda due to corruption and Rwanda due to support of M23 as for the " ( a Rwandan opposition leader and president of the Green party was beheaded not long ago in Rwanda )" Note the date in the report below from the San Francisco Bay View. 

First Vice President Andre Kagwa Rwisereka of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda was found dead, his head almost completely severed from his body, in the wetlands of the Makula River near Butare, Rwanda, on the morning of July 14, 2010.

The London Guardian reported that Rwanda police spokesperson Eric Kariyanga said that Rwisereka had reportedly been carrying a lot of money and that robbery may have been the motive, but Habineza said, “No, it wasn’t a robbery, because they left his car, they left the keys to his car inside the car, they left the keys to his house inside the car with his national identity card inside the car. If they were thieves, they would have taken his car. If they were thieves, they would have taken the keys to his house and gone to take things from his house. They left the keys to his car and his house inside the car.”

So yet again I am calling bullshit on Lakongo and his analysis skills.
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.

This is just shit. It deserves nothing but our contempt. It is worse than shit it is racist shit. If I was to argue the Eastern DR Congo is the worst place in the world to be a woman with the highest rape statistics in the world ( not really disputed ) and then concluded all Congolese men are rapists I would be laughed at and deservedly so. I can see very little difference between that and the deformation of Tutsi by Lakongo with his stupid statement.
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.

True MONUSCO didn't engage they have been rewarded for that by an international loss of confidence. There are others who didn't engage because they had a deadline to meet in Goma. Looting raping and pillaging were without doubt the overriding priority of FARDC and I have heard eye witness accounts. The UN are not accomplices they are just useless. As for the US and Britain allegations, you make sweeping claims and provide no evidence Lakongo. You are full of it. ( Shit that is ).
"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.

A link would be nice or are you making it up ?
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 ).

Ambiguous situations create ambiguity by their nature. Absolutes are rare in international relations.
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.

Rwanda joined the UN 18-09-1962 so I can only assume Lakongo is referring to the security council membership. Their opposition to drones finished from memory about a week ago.
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.

WTF ? This is totally irrelevant.
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.

This sounds to my admittedly Western ears like a vote of support for a misunderstood Mobutu.

Mobutu Sese Seko... was the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (also known as Zaire for much of his rule) from 1965 to 1997. While in office, he formed an authoritarian regime, amassed vast personal wealth, and attempted to purge the country of all colonial cultural influence, while also maintaining an  anti-communist stance.
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, 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?

As I said above this issue has been dealt with. I have detailed my views on the issue here and also here. 
Well, maybe Kagame's days are numbered if we have 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!".

If Lakongo thinks Kagame's days are numbered then he is a bigger fool than I have given him credit for here. Kagame faces no short term threat other than that faced by all the Crocodiles that being assassination.
"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!

I doubt it.
- Antoine Roger Lokongo is a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is a journalist and PhD candidate at the Centre for African Studies, School of International Relations, Peking University, Beijing, China.

At the risk of repeating my self " I doubt it. "  PhD candidate ? Peking University needs to up its game if that is the case.



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