This is with reference to Festo Ngamije’s column, “Endemic DRC war: need for a bottom-up approach”, published in The New Times edition of August 14.
I concur with the author that the best approach to restoring peace in the DRC should be from bottom-up. After all that was imposed from above especially from the very on-high (the UN), everything has failed miserably and does not look anywhere close to success.
However, I disagree with part of the statement that “the international community has pumped billions of dollars in trying to soothe and build peace ...” True, billions of dollars have been sunk into that hell-hole, also known as the DRC. But it is questionable whether, in fact, it was with the aim of “trying to soothe and build peace”.
Everything we have seen so far tends to suggest that all that money was more likely intended to achieve the very opposite of peace.
And if, as we must suspect, the declared and the real objectives of these efforts are symmetrical opposites, we must doubt that soothing the situation and bringing peace are on the immediate horizon, especially as those currently in charge will resist ever having to cede their role to the sub-region.
For to those people the DRC situation isn’t really a problem, but a lucrative opportunity that can continue to be milked for all it is worth. The efforts put into ensuring the ICGLR mediation process between Kinshasa and the M23 does not succeed should have been an eye-opener even to the most optimistic observer about the intentions of the UN and the powers that control it.
Unlike the people of the DRC and those of neighbouring countries, who face the dire consequences of perpetual insecurity and instability from this lawless giant, the far-off corporate benefactors of this situation have no personal risk exposure from the destruction and humanitarian catastrophe arising from legal and security vacuum of a virtual non-state.
They can enjoy the honey without fear of bee stings, while, we, the people of the Great Lakes of Africa, do not have that luxury. The fallout from endemic instability in our neighbourhood is both direct and costly.
This is also why we have a greater stake in securing a sustainable solution to this imbroglio than the UN or non-regional powers who run the UN but who have refused to get out of our way and a solution.
Mwene Kalinda, Kigali
Yes, I agree with the author on the bottom-up approach but here is the problem: In most cases bottom-up approaches work when the problem is still at the local level. For Congo, however, it has grown bigger than regional level – it is a national problem.
In this case, yes engaging local actors is the best thing to do; of course the national government hasn’t demonstrated the will to cooperate with local actors.
For a complex problem like the Congo, I think something like Gacaca (grassroots) approach might be one to look at since it hasn’t really been used. I am talking about the central government taking a role in bringing people together for the sake of peace.
Really, the Congolese social fabric is torn apart. To piece it back together requires local people coming together, eventually influencing the bottom-up approach. My two-cents!