Ntaganda in The Hague alone no solution for DRC

The pundits are in a quandary; their punditry has fallen apart! You know of whom I talk, for I talk of the West European and North American ‘experts’ whose ‘authoritative knowledge’ of the Great Lakes region is quoted on every platform wherefrom we other mortals must draw, if we want to know ourselves.
Pan Butamire
Pan Butamire

The pundits are in a quandary; their punditry has fallen apart!

You know of whom I talk, for I talk of the West European and North American ‘experts’ whose ‘authoritative knowledge’ of the Great Lakes region is quoted on every platform wherefrom we other mortals must draw, if we want to know ourselves.

You’ve seen these Western cowboys and girls who come, roam our jungles and savannahs or, very often, simply cursorily rove the maze of internet, and bingo! They become the authoritative voice of the region. They alone understand its situation and no explanation or analysis is credible unless it carries their stamp of authority. Any other opinion, especially if local, counts for nil.

And so they came, or browsed, and saw and understood. And lectured, as they should, knowing all, and we listened while they defined our situation.

This riffraff collection of rebel groups in DR Congo, they averred, even with their murdering, pillaging and raping, was nothing. We knew FDLR, Mai-Mai many copies and the coterie of other rebel groups to be responsible for all the mayhem in this sorry country, maybe as much as M23, but no, they said. The true villain was one: M23, though formed only last April 2012.

It was the true villain because, except for its raping and child-soldier recruitment, it looked like RPA. RPA, for those who may not know, was the fighting wing of the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), the rebel movement that stopped the Genocide in 1994 and is now the ruling party in Rwanda. But, no, the pundits reconstructed its pre-1994 fighting force and placed it in DRC. 

See, it was equally strong and equally disciplined. Soon, in fact, it became stronger than the RPA. It had more sophisticated gadgetry, like night vision binoculars, complex weapons, all, and could stage lightening attacks and even capture Goma practically overnight. No, this sophistication could only be from a country in the vicinity. And which other country had Tutsi elements in the region? Yes, what they had always told the world was confirmed. All aid to Rwanda, repeat all, should be cut, period!

Then the vaunted formidable force came apart. From RDF (Rwanda Defence Forces), which it seemed to have been turned into, M23 became not only ‘un-RPA’ but truly Congolese. Its rebels forgot about whatever they were fighting for and set upon themselves. Soon, some among them vaulted across the border and joined their parents in Rwandan refugee camps. And then they ejected the ‘skeleton’ out of their cupboard and, voilà!

Bosco Ntaganda, the master child recruiter, was here in flesh. The chief rapist, who had evaded the dragnet of the West (forget about the ICC), was now in the open. “Terminator”, the Hitler who was responsible for all the agonies visited on DRC, was out and about.

And he was – not in the welcoming arms of his constructed kith in Rwanda but – at the gates of the American embassy. I can imagine the flurry of activity as the man stood at the reception last Monday morning and announced: “I am Bosco....Bosco Ntaganda......the terminator of life in DRC.” The phones in Kigali and Washington must have vibrated themselves un-functional!

And so the pundits were placed bang in the horns of dilemma.

M23 did not only fall apart around their feet but Bosco Ntaganda, instead of running to Rwanda as they’d made the world believe he would, ran into the arms of Americans. It says volumes. And that ‘volumes’ cannot include the fact that the man went there to pick the $5m on his head, himself. But, of course, that ‘volumes’ is not in the pundits’ area of interest. Their interest lies elsewhere and, as we speak, kilometres of reports must be on the production line.

Unfortunately, some with similarly vested interest are not helping out. Kayumba Nyamwasa, the Rwandan general in a South African ‘cupboard’, says Ntaganda cannot walk the length of the DRC-Kigali road without being detected by the hawkish Rwandan security. He forgets that he (Nyamwasa) did exactly that, on another route. Granted, you can’t go far with a grenade, for instance, but otherwise there are no roadblocks on the way, if he entered as a disguised, harmless refugee.

And that’s exactly why the US embassy should feel free to transport Bosco Ntaganda to the airport for his onward transfer to The Hague. Beyond that, they should need no government co-operation.

If it’s a matter of the cost of the flight, staff in the US embassy can heed Justice Minister Karugarama’s advice and help themselves on the $5m their country put on Ntaganda’s head. God knows he has worked for it but he won’t be needing it anytime soon.

Dollars, reports, The Hague or joy of the Congolese, however, none should forget. Our suffering brothers and sisters in DRC will never cease to suffer unless a lasting solution is found. To quote a friend’s diplomatic lingo, all should remain seized of that matter.

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