LACK OF TRUTHFULNESS AND GOODWILL REMAIN THE MOST ELUSIVE FOE IN THE CONGO CONFLICT.
I pen this from the bottom of my heart. I believe that even as the intervention by Kenya Defense Forces and the joint mission by the EAC troops presents a glimmer of hope for the conflict in Congo.
But the avalanche of accusations and counter-accusations that Rwanda is behind a renewed military campaign by the M23 rebels reflects both the growing frustration with recent developments in the east of the country.
These accusations, therefore, are a risk of reversal of recent advances in regional integration. The truth be told and nothing should be hidden. The M23 has fall back bases. When they retreat where do they retreat ?
Whatever the case, it is probable that in looking at Rwanda and the DRC, the two countries seem to be barking up the wrong tree. The DRC and Rwandan economies are fairly integrated and Kigali would be biting the hand that feeds it if it tried to destabilize a hinterland that is both a market and a source of crucial farm produce to them.
To solve this conflict, all stakeholders need to stop paying lip service to the course and showcase the valor and firmness seen in the Ugandan and the Kenyan troops in running rebels out of town.
Just two months into their renewed offensive, the rebels had already been dislodged from Rumangabo, a military base they had captured from government forces in March 2022.
Unlike the others, the two Countries seem not to be harboring ulterior motives and mean business in this offensive.
A clear litmus test results that if the Congo Conflict resolution would be approached from the standpoint of truthfulness and without subversive maneuvers, this conflict could be long behind us.
I believe that the conundrum in this conflict brings vivid memories that draw parallels between current events in Eastern DRC and the senseless black-on-black violence that engulfed South Africa soon after the decisive referendum in 1992.
This set the clock towards majority rule and the Zulu Nkata Freedom Party of Buthelezi caused mayhem. It was chaotic and tumultuous, laying a veritable ground for subversion.
With the assassination of Communist Party Secretary General Chris Hani in April 1993 and the realization that a third force was manipulating events, South Africa was rapidly hurtling towards implosion. It was a disaster abated by a whisker, this is precisely what’s happening in DRC Congo.
The timing of the M23 attacks suggests that something more sinister could be afoot and the target, to benefit whoever is financing their subversive attacks on DRC .
It’s not by surprise that they come at a time of unprecedented cooperation that is seeing joint infrastructure projects and the economic opening up of the country to the ambitions of a new wave of indigenous African Capital.
Looking at the actions of the M23 through the prism and the binoculars of truth and sincerity, their role is simply too convenient and only serves as a veil to obscure the more complex forces at play.
Left unchecked, the emerging mistrust will soon draw in other neighbours and potentially scuttle the ongoing joint operations by the DRC and Ugandan militaries against elements of the Allied Democratic Forces.
As a matter of truth, the crisis in the DRC cannot be separated from the illegal arms, financial flows and the thriving trade in conflict minerals. Besides, the M23 are only one of several armed groups operating in the restive east of the country.
Only truthfulness and actions that tackle the conflict with honesty will tame the volatile situation in eastern DRC. Otherwise, things might take a downward spiral.
Nonetheless, there is still hope that DRC’s entry into the EAC will eventually help to bring peace and rearrangement to the volatile but mineral rich Eastern DRC.
However, the current drums of war only puncture that optimism. The rising tensions should not be left to persist, they would most likely derail the operation and only prolong the conflict.
The way to achieve peace for Congo would be easy if all players came to the table with clean hands, truthfulness, honesty and goodwill could do much in this conflict.
Otherwise, we will be staring at another war within a war if we’re not careful, both Rwanda and DRC should commit to an amicable resolution of their grievances before we can forge a united front to face the rebels, lest they erase the gains and eventually bog down other stakeholders.
In this conflict, we must not be like the Pharisees who only wash the cup from outside, whereas the inside stinks to heaven. Sideshows without commitment, truthfulness and honesty will only waste the time, resources and even further deteriorate the situation.
Truth be told, the inside squabbling and underhand subversion only brings a baggage to those committed to end the conflict.
Author: Dr. Matsanga David (Political Scientist and International Conflict Resolution Expert)