So, the peace deal between the DR Congo and M23 is as dead as dodo. And President Joseph Kabila is cheering, instead of grieving.
The energy that presidents of the regional countries have expended coaxing the two parties into sitting down with them to painstakingly weave out a peace package has come to nought. Suddenly, the carpet was pulled from under their feet and our presidents were left holding on to useless paper.
But maybe it was our presidents’ fault: they sat down with the wrong party. They should have known that Kabila is a spectator to what goes on in his country. Short of sorting out his country’s problems, there is precious little else they can do for him.
Some of these leaders know his place as a fact. But they also know that, unless they are ready to take on ‘the elephant in the mines’, their hands are tied.
Does Kabila know that the peace deal would have empowered him?
I doubt. Yet there is no doubt that he’d have reaped dividends from the talks. The most important of these dividends is that the talks would have introduced him to his people. It may sound absurd but it’s true: Kabila is stranger to many of his people.
No one can challenge the fact that there are Congolese who have never heard of Kabila’s name, leave alone seen him – or his less diminutive portrait. Whoever doubts this let them visit Ituri Forest where some people have never seen an invention called “the radio”.
And so the peace talks would not have ended in Kampala, nor with the M23. Our presidents would have passed to Kabila the wisdom that all his people needed this dialogue.
He would then go out to listen to all grievances and suggestions of solutions. He would cease to fortify himself and brood in his Kinshasa ivory tower – if not white elephant – and spread out to embrace his population. Thus, Kabila and his people can work out a development agenda.
As we know, there is no wisdom like that of the people. And so they would advise him to ditch the mineral curse and seal all mines.
Minerals only enrich foreign countries of the north, where industries are thriving and his citizens’ abject poverty is unequivocal evidence. The solution is the land. In a vast country whose every inch is fertile, who needs minerals?
The Congolese, intelligent as they are elegant, need only concentrate on agriculture. Their cassava, potato, tea, coffee, maize, timber and a variety of their other produce wealth will build their infrastructure and industry. Following which, they can waltz into the family of middle-income countries.
Whereupon, the time to now open up their mines and power their industries after which, they can do what they do best. Sing, enjoy their music and make merry – hopefully, not the way of their soldiers!
Alas, for our poor neighbours, all this has turned into wishful thinking. Kabila and his greedy advisers have thrown the baby out with the bath water. They have squandered the goodwill of the regional presidents who were ready to give of their time.
Some of them – precious few, too, unfortunately! – have dealt with Western do-gooders and know how to square up with them. Kabila and his cronies would’ve gained immensely from a communion with these sages.
Now the DRC has no hope of ever extricating itself out of the quandary it’s in, as a theatre of contests among a raft of hungry Western world wolves.
It’s not enough for the Western powers to watch through satellites and drones and make sure that this status quo is not interfered with. They have deployed special envoys who have pitched tent on the ground, to instantly report on the slightest threat.
But, so far, there is no threat. The bothersome pest that threatened to be one has been dealt a terminal blow. M23, Tutsi-led, therefore synonymous with having a stubbornly inquisitive streak, has been vanquished.
All should be happy. After all, it was Rwanda/Uganda-backed. If anybody wants evidence, there is raping to imagine and there are child-soldiers to fabricate.
DRC is now at peace with itself, as Kabila’s benefactors and guardians wanted it.
Yet neighbours, ever caring souls, are concerned. Now that the Western media, rights groups, charity and other organisations have evacuated, satisfied that the enemy is no more, no one knows what’s happening in North Kivu.
The whole area has become a black hole. Our regional media, ever dependent on Western media feeds, is none the wiser either.
Everybody remembers that there were reports of looting by the Congolese army on entering Bunagana, near Uganda. The way the reports quickly disappeared, however, there is no telling if they were not immediately quashed.
Then there were reports of reprisals against the relatives of M23 fighters, which equally quickly vanished.
The way Kabila is spectator to his country’s affairs is the way he is, to his army. So, knowing “his” army, who can believe that it is now miraculously disciplined? There is strong reason to fear for the lives of relatives of M23 fighters still in the area.
Western powers keeping guard over DRC cannot be trusted to care for them. Nor can their weapon of mass destruction (WMD, otherwise ‘acronymed’ as MONUSCO).
MONUSCO/FID/FARDC and their hand-in-glove buddy, FDLR, methinks they are having a field day.