The declaration of Etienne Tshisekedi about M23 and Rwanda interference in DRC, at the end of his discussions with Francois Hollande on October 12, 2012, reminds of another politician, Faustin Twagiramungu, former Rwandan prime minister. In 1992, the latter announced that the problem his country had while the Rwandan Patriotic Front occupied part of his country, was not the invasion from Uganda by the rebel group, but the leadership of Juvenal Habyarimana, former president of Rwanda. This one was assassinated by Paul Kagame on April 6th, 1994 by ordering the shooting down of his aeroplane. The rest that followed is history.
Rwanda joins the Security Council of the United Nations, despite its involvement in the destabilization of the Democratic Republic of Congo, through its proxy puppets. Congolese people are outraged. They may be right, but the problem is that the same Congolese are cheering Etienne Tshisekedi’s declarations, while answering a question of a journalist who asked him whether DRC had been attacked. He said: “DRC is not attacked; there is only a leadership problem, if a country operates like an open ground, where anyone can enter as they want…so the problem is elsewhere; it is all about leadership; this to say that the country has not been attacked, that’s the individual who was here [Laurent Desire Kabila?] who was also a traitor, who had signed agreements that we did not know about …”
These statements speak volumes. DRC is not under attack! Put yourself in the place of all these foreigners who follow the news about DRC and listening to such statements. Even one Cameroonian friend railed while hearing that. Imagine for a moment that Rwanda brandish this statement to clear itself of its involvement in the DRC to the UN. What can we say if a Western official brandish such declaration against Congolese allegations of attack by Rwanda? How can one trust someone who has no expertise of major issues that their country faces? Mind you, Etienne Tshisekedi does ever accuse Paul Kagame of Rwanda in his statements? Last year, during the electoral campaign, he said on RFI that insecurity in the East is due to the presence of Mai Mai who came with Kabila.
Frankly unbelievable! But let me tell you an anecdote, dear friends. Three weeks ago, I was discussing with Helmut Strizek, a German political scientist and expert with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). At one point, the gentleman told me this: “You know, Tshisekedi gets along well with Kagame. He even told me that Rwanda has never been the problem in the Congo … ” While listening to Tshisekedi’s statements at the end of his meeting with Hollande [in Kinshasa], my conversation with Strizek came straight back to my mind. I was somehow surprised even though I know that in 2002, Kagame hosted Tshisekedi gracefully.
The question I ask myself is this: how far will Congolese people continue to be accommodating and complacent to its political elites? Why are we so sectarian and blind supporters? A people that has made one man its ideal will ultimately disappear. I have great respect for Mr. Tshisekedi but I think it’s time for Congolese people to turn the page. There must be a renewal of the current political class.
Political leadership at the highest level is neither a simplistic game for narrow minds nor a series of mediocre films for lazy viewers. In politics, it is not always enough to watch the scenery to understand the movie or read the story to understand the role of actors. It may happen that the actors themselves do not necessarily understand the meaning of their role in the overall act.
One may think that this piece is not particularly focused onRwanda getting its seat on the UNSC. But think about it. If those [148 votes out of 193] who supported its admission had the same views as Etienne Tshisekedi, I hope now you can get my point. Everything here is about that seat. I agree with Patrick Mbeko on the necessary renewal of African elites. I would even go a little bit further: we [Africans] need to create a social and political framework [at national and pan African levels] to identify, nurture, and promote the right leaders for our countries and continent. And such structure demands to be relatively independent and neutral from politicians. To illustrate my argument on the required renewal of African politics, let me give an example. When Nelson Mandela was released from prison and became the first Black president of his country, he was hailed as a living legend. He was invited to lead on many peace initiatives around the world, Northern Ireland, Burundi, etc. His country sold weapons to Rwanda that helped invade DRC. And his overall attitude towards Rwanda’s Paul Kagame from 1994 onwards, plus the pursuit of South African national interests in the Great Lakes region, enabled the situation that we see today in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Had South Africa of Nelson Mandela been out the Great Lakes region affairs, the situation would probably be different. But because Mandela international status was not questionable, it was used at the expense of today 8 millions of Africans and the repression of 10 millions of Rwandans by Paul Kagame’s regime. One might think that this is an exaggeration of considering that Mandela had much to do with what is happening in the region; but there are many interconnections which are not always obvious, but while being significant in their impacts. Etienne Tshisekedi is legendary in Congolese politics so much so that it would be seen as inappropriate to question his stand on certain issues. Patrick Mbeko is pointing at his position on Rwandan involvement in DRC. In the same way the position of the former Rwandan former prime minister Faustin Twagiramungu on RPF deepened the Rwandans’ suffering, lets hope Congolese people will be more wiser about their venerated leader Etienne Tshisekedi with his views about Rwandan interference in DRC affairs.