President Jakaya Kikwete (left) and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame no longer see eye to eye on DRC issues.
Diplomatic tensions between Tanzania and Rwanda appeared set to escalate as the two countries once again traded accusation over the latter’s alleged backing of rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Rwanda seems incapable of understanding basic political concepts and for that matter geography. The concept ofRealpolitikis not complicated.
" Realpolitik (from German: real "realistic", "practical", or "actual"; and Politik "politics", German pronunciation: [ʁeˈaːlpoliˌtɪk]) is politics or diplomacy based primarily on power and on practical and material factors and considerations, rather than explicit ideological notions or moral or ethical premises. In this respect, it shares aspects of its philosophical approach with those of realism and pragmatism. The term Realpolitik is sometimes used pejoratively to imply politics that are coercive,amoral, or Machiavellian."
Rwanda domestically is an expert in the application of Realpolitik when it comes to suppression of dissent. On the international stage however Rwanda is but an infant. Tony Blair and Bill Clinton are not African nations. South Africa and Tanzania are. Realpolitik's is essentially " might is right " Rwanda as I have pointed out gets this on a domestic level but fails to recognise it internationally. South Africa is with out a doubt one of the major sub Saharan African powers, with a population of around 52 million peopleSouth Africa has the second largest economy in Africa after Nigeria. Tanzania is not far behind with a population of about 45 million. Then we have Rwanda, about 12 million people and tellingly :
" Rwanda is a country of few natural resources,and the economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture by local farmers using simple tools."
“There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare. ”
Yet that is all the Kagame regime has to offer. Tanzania and South Africa have made it clear where they stand. They stand with the DR Congo and increasingly they stand against Rwanda. Tony Blair and Bill Clinton are not only not African nations they are no longer in charge of the nations they formerly ruled.
Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs minister Louis Mushikiwabo on Friday responded to the claims by her Tanzanian counterpart Bernard Membe that the defunct M23 rebel force that fought the DRC government until recently was a creation of the Rwandan government, saying, “That M23 business is a tired story that has no place in the region right now.
“As for Tanzania’s foreign minister whose anti-Rwanda rant in parliament I heard, he would benefit from a lesson in the history of the region.”
ActuallyLouis Mushikiwabo has a very impressiveacademic record that details her historical / academic achievements. History is not among them. Actually they have also neglected to include even her primary school achievements. In fact it would seem she has been ignored by history. There can't be many cabinet ministers in the world who have achieved as little as she has.
Mr Membe, while appearing before the country’s parliament, is reported to have said: “When I told the BBC that Rwandans were causing instability in eastern Congo, I meant what I said... it’s the UN’s Group of Experts that originally accused Rwanda, not me.”
Minister Membe the world believes you.
“Rwanda and other reasonable actors in the region and afar are engaged in finding lasting peace, so we can dedicate more time to improving the lives of our citizens,” Ms Mushikiwabo said in an e-mail to The EastAfrican.
Not sure who the reasonable regional actors are but I am guessing Uganda. Tony Blair and Bill Clinton are I stress not nation states. They are afar however and in Mushikiwabo's world they have meaning.
This is not the first time the countries are trading barbs. Tension was initially sparked off by President Jakaya Kikwete’s suggestion in May 2013 during an African Union meeting in Ethiopia that the Rwandan government should hold peace talks with the FDLR rebel group to end violence in the eastern DRC.
Rwanda was correct to say no to talks then. Check out this blog. I will never support any differentiation on the grounds of race. The FDLR is surrendering or going through the motions. Rwanda if it wants to be taken seriously needs to engage with the process.
Rwanda, which regards the Hutu group as genocidaires who played the leading role in the 1994 genocide, termed President Kikwete a “sympathiser” of the FDLR.
While addressing senior military graduates in north Rwanda, President Paul Kagame noted in reference to President Kikwete’s advice, “I kept quiet about this because of the contempt I have for it. I thought it was utter nonsense. Maybe it was due to ignorance but if this is an ideological problem for anyone to be thinking this way, then it better stay with those who have it.”
Not doctors, not nurses or teachers but " addressing senior military graduates " Welcome to Rwanda. Ignorance has a home.
Sources say the two leaders have tried to avoid each other by dodging meetings and scenarios that could bring them together. At the regional level, the Heads of State Summit is needed to sign off on key protocols, but the soured relations between the two vitiates the atmosphere required to promote the integration process.
Mr Membe was reacting to concerns expressed by Ezekiah Wenje, the shadow Foreign minister, while presenting alternative budget proposals in parliament, that the allegations Membe made against Rwanda on BBC’s Focus on Africa programme last September would worsen the diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
Mr Wenje said Mr Membe’s comment, together with the government’s silence on claims by former Rwandan prime minister Faustine Twagiramungu that he had visited Tanzania to seek advice on how FDRL could take over in Rwanda, would only serve to deepen tensions between the countries.
“The statement by Mr Membe will worsen the relationship with our neighbour Rwanda. It is important that national leaders be careful about making such statements,” said Mr Wenje.
Mr Membe acknowledged that relations between Rwanda and Tanzania were strained because opportunists took advantage of the situation to fuel diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
However, Mr Membe reiterated that the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) were Rwandans, who fled to eastern DRC after the 1994 genocide while the Banyamulenge who formed the M23 rebel group that fought the DRC government for years, were Tutsi from Rwanda.
Tanzania’s recent decision to expel 3,500 Rwandese illegal immigrants heightened the tension.
Disclosure: I am a Kiwi born in Scotland and yes I am white. My family are Congolese and are Tutsi.