I have talked to the two protagonists in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) conflict and they are all set to talk peace. We have been preparing the ground to provide all that is necessary for meaningful peace talks, said Benjamin Mkapa, the former president of Tanzania
Like Arusha, Nairobi has gained prominence as a venue for peace talks or ‘peace jokes’ as some pessimists would like to say. There have been many conflicts, violence and wars, in this part on the African continent, which demanded some peaceful settlements.
Whenever things go beyond the initiators of the chaos, a third party is invited to help. This kind of situation demands a neutral ground or country, where the protagonists go to negotiate ending the conflict.
A country that is relatively stable in terms of security, is normally given the chance and Tanzania being one of such countries in the region, has always been the choice. This is how Arusha and Nairobi stole the show.
But the recent violence in Kenya showed that the country might not enjoy the dignity for so long like Tanzania. Nevertheless, the ongoing peace process between Laurent Nkunda’s National Congress for People’s Defence (CNDP) and DRC government are on the right course with the right mediators-Olesgun Obasanjo (Nigeria) and Benjamin Mkapa (Tanzania) both former heads of states.
The result will however, be determined by the degree of responsibility from both parties. Most peace talks in the sub-Saharan Africa are characterised by lack of seriousness, which is why they have been correctly referred to as peace jokes.
Anybody claiming to be an African leader in the 21st Century must know what the people of the continent need. They have had enough of conflicts and wars. They therefore do not need anymore, but a way leading to the improvement of their lifestyles and livelihoods.
The CNDP as a rebel group should be aware that time has run out for such movements. Though they could have taken it as a last resort, when a choice to talk peace comes their way, let it be utilised for the betterment of their people.
DRC as a government, should sound more concerned about the plight of its citizens. One important aspect in any economy is the human resource.
Whenever you allow wars to reign over your country, you will not only be destroying the potential human resource, but also the potential customers of the goods and services you produce.
The DRC is a vast nation whose concern should not be ‘demographic’, but mobilising the vast resources to the benefit of its people and the entire continent.
Remember Mobutu Sese Seko—the late president of Zaire, now DRC never called it ‘un grand pay ‘ without a reason-it is the same reason that its leaders should capitalise on to end wars and instead turn into Africa’s economic granary.
It is therefore against the law of common sense, for the DRC government to fight hard to push out the Banyamulenge from the country, they virtually form part of the human resource and the customers they need to sell their products.
Look at what the United States of America is doing, its attracting more people to offer similar services. Every time you open your computer, you are greeted with a welcome to the US.
It would in the same line, be very interesting to see on the DRC website chances of getting a green card, allowing people to go with their families to stay in the DRC, just as the US website is doing.
In a country like the DRC, population should not be the trouble. Let the work force be organised to build the country’s infrastructure to pave the way for meaningful development.
Talking peace demands telling all the truth about grievances different parties have, forgiving and being remorseful. If the protagonists go into peace talks with hidden agenda to seek and hide, play the cut and mouse game, be sure they will be engaged in peace jokes that will never yield into anything fruitful.
What DRC and CNDP actually forget, is that they are equally tricky, naïve or intelligent, have the same experience, betrayed by the same people and indeed serving the interest of a similar people of Africa.
They are thus supposed to be guided by same principles to build their countries and help their fellow citizens to live a meaningful life.
It beats my logic when political leaders go around claiming to be fighting and working to restore the rights of their people, when in the actual sense their people are living in a state of hopelessness.
The fact that the peace mediators in Nairobi are Africans means that we expect something beyond the classic Geneva results.
Let Africans learn to solve their own problems, as we request the West to offer us unnecessary hand that ends up in a mess. After all, we are used to the African herb for all our ills.