They love Congo but not the Congolese
One of the most philosophical statements that President Paul Kagame has mentioned in relation to the current crisis in Eastern DRC relates to the role of external actors who pretend to care much about the conflict yet they are only pursuing selfish interests.
While responding to a question from a western journalist pressing the President for a comment on allegations from some sections, President Kagame’s response was summed up in one punchy statement “they love Congo but not Congolese.”
In my view this statement summarizes what many people have written or said about the role of foreign actors in the Congo conflict. Unfortunately, there’s always a deliberate attempt to ignore this truth and instead shift blame elsewhere.
It is a fact that cannot be contested. These foreign actors love the fact that Congo is endowed with natural gems, which they have exploited for generations without any one holding them accountable. They love the fact that governance structures in DRC do not function and therefore broad-day robbery of these natural gems becomes easy.
They love the fact that as Congolese continue to stab themselves, these fellows using their multilateral mining companies, will walk in, dig-up the minerals, airlift them to their countries and leave without paying even a single penny to the Congolese tax-man.
As Prof. Jean Ziegler put it at the recently concluded international conference on Governance and Democracy – peace in the DRC equals a loss in profit margins for some western multilateral mining concessions and any attempt to have a stable Congo will naturally meet resistance.
Prof. Ziegler makes a very important point. Like I mention above, these multilaterals do not have to pay taxes. They simply dig-up, bribe a local chief and go.
They are not obliged to set up any modern mining infrastructure or develop a sustainable industry that can create multiple jobs for the ordinary person. Instead, they are interested in setting up makeshift structures at a very low cost that will serve their interests in the short-run.
Unlike in their countries where issues of corporate social responsibility form the core values of any serious company, in Congo they do not have to eat into their profits wasting their resources by giving back to society.
Therefore an unstable Congo is a fertile ground for profit maximization, and with support from their home governments, they will attempt to block anything that threatens this profit margin. Hence they love Congo and not the Congolese.
This is one side of the coin. The other constitutes those who do not necessarily love Congo for its minerals but instead milk from the suffering of the Congolese.
It is through the continued misery of Congolese that they enrich themselves. Therefore any attempt of bringing peace to this troubled region is a direct attack to their livelihood. These fellows have created an industry in the name of humanitarian work and have enriched themselves on aid meant to help Congolese.
As such, it has led to mushrooming of different NGOs whose mandate is nothing but fanning the conflict and in return keep the dollar taps flowing. They are now a network and operate like a mafia in hatching plans on how to discredit any peace process by way of throwing around all sorts of rumours.
And to render their rumors substantial, Rwanda becomes the scapegoat. Why? Because Rwanda is the biggest threat to the survival of this illicit way of milking the Congo.
Sadly our brothers in the Congo have fallen into this trap too. Instead of dealing with its internal problems, the problems of security for its people in the eastern part and hence rendering these external actors irrelevant, Kinshasa finds an excuse in the name of Rwanda.
In 2009, Rwanda arrested former rebel leader Laurent Nkunda to stop the fighting that had erupted in this volatile part of the Congo. And indeed the fighting stopped. But the question that the Congolese need to ask themselves is, why then has a new group emerged? What went wrong?
The Congolese themselves can best answer these questions. And within the answer to this question lies the solution to the conflict.
Otherwise falling in the trap of those who ‘love Congo and not Congolese’ is as good as dealing with a disease while ignoring its causes.
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Contact email: akaeus[at]yahoo.com