Dec 4, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

EDITORIAL: Let’s look beyond the obvious in the conflict in Congo

A lightning visit by Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi to Luanda, Angola this week amid accusations that Rwanda is behind a renewed military campaign by M23 rebels reflects both growing frustration over recent developments in the east of the country and Risk of reversing recent gains in regional integration.

Two months after their renewed offensive, the rebels were this week driven out of Rumangabo, a military base they captured from government forces in March. DR Congo believes that M23 is armed and funded by Rwanda, an accusation that Kigali has vehemently denied.

In any case, it is likely that Kinshasa, and most commentators looking at Rwanda, believe that False Bark Tree. The economies of DRC and Rwanda are fairly integrated, and Kigali would bite the hand that feeds it if it tried to destabilize a hinterland that is both a market and a source of important agricultural products. It therefore seems illogical that Rwanda should be responsible for the actions it is accused of.

Contemporary historians might see parallels between current events in eastern DRC and the senseless black-on-black violence see Africa sweeping south just after the crucial 1992 referendum that set the clock towards majority rule. Until the assassination of Communist Party Secretary-General Chris Hani in April 1993 and the realization that a third force was manipulating events, South Africa was rapidly speeding toward implosion.

The timing of the M23 attacks suggests more sinister could be afoot and the goal, the western expansion of the East African Community. They come at a time of unprecedented collaboration, seeing joint infrastructure projects and the country’s economic opening to the ambitions of a new wave of indigenous African capital.

Looking at the M23’s actions through the prism of their ethnic relationship with the people of Rwanda and its historical role in the conflict in the Great Lakes region is simply too convenient and only serves to obscure the more complex forces at play. Left unchecked, the emerging distrust will soon attract other neighbors and potentially derail ongoing joint operations by DRC and Ugandan forces against elements of the Allied Democratic Forces.

The crisis in DRC should not be separated from illegal arms, financial flows and the flourishing trade in conflict minerals. Also, the M23 are just one of several armed groups operating in the country’s troubled east. Only action that tackles the ecosystem that allows violent non-state actors to thrive will stem the volatile situation in eastern DRC.

Above all, there was hope that Kinshasa’s accession to the EAC would actually help bring peace and order to the unruly but gifted East. The current war drums only pierce that optimism.

East Africa cannot afford new tensions. Businessmen are collecting the pieces after a de facto three-year border closure between Uganda and Rwanda. Another border blockade somewhere in the EAC would put the brakes on the fledgling recovery from Covid-19.