Wednesday, 18 July 2012

AU: the new Commission chief and the challenges.

By Gael Masengi

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
The newly elected chairwoman of the African Union commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma faces tough challenges in early days of her mandate.

On Sunday, South Africa’s minister of Home Affairs was elected head of AU commission; Dr Dlamini-Zuma became the first female to hold the post, beating the incumbent Gabonese Jean Ping after months of power struggle that threatened to divide the already dysfunctional organisation. But the South African diplomat has yet to prove that she is the right woman for the job as she faces tougher challenges than her election, the continent is embraced with various on-going conflicts from north, east to central.

One of them is the most talked-about and disturbing, rebels attacks in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and the United Nation’s recent report showing the implication of Rwanda which her predecessor completely failed to solve. Unlike Jean Ping, ex-miss Zuma is a distinguished politician who attracted praises for her hard work at the helm of the then disorganised South African department of Home Affairs and her contribution to the glory days of her country’s foreign policy back in the days of former president Thabo Mbeki but the boiling conflicts in the DRC, Sudan and South Sudan or the coup in Mali are different stories all together, this is a baptism of fire for her as it seeks more than just being strong enough to handle all of Africa’s never ending problems and above all to re-unite the continent after her election which revealed a deep division that reign within the union’s French and English speaking countries. The AU’ second summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (which was initially scheduled to take place in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe) didn’tjust help to break the union’s long tradition of “only male” leaders but it did certainly serve as a neutral ground for Rwanda and its larger neighbour the Democratic Republic of Congo to try to settle their differences as they both agreed via the respective president to an international force to intervene in Congo even though UN peacekeepers are already in the region.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma’s victory on the other hand will have an immense impact and hopefully it will strengthen South Africa’s damaged foreign policy specifically on its relation with fellow Africans due to SA’s unpopular support of the International Criminal Court and its arrest warrants against African politicians. Optimistically it will also help the South African population to connect with other fellow Africans as they always have been detached to the realities they go through.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

What the sentencing of Lubanga means to Congolese.

By Gael Masengi

The 10 years old International Criminal Court (ICC) handed down its very first verdict this past Tuesday, sentencing a Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga for 14 years in jail on charge of recruiting child soldiers. The 51 years old Lubanga was convicted in March of recruiting and using children in his Uganda backed Union of Congolese Patriots militia during fighting in Congo’s north-eastern region of Ituri in 2002-2003.
 Thomas Lubanga
Last night I sat down with South Africa based vibrant Congolese activists in Johannesburg ahead of their “anti-Rwanda” march scheduled later this week, what I got was a mixed feeling on Lubanga verdict while seventy per cent found ideal years given to Lubanga the remaining thirty thought it was not enough for such criminal. 

 However them all was more concerned about the current situation in the Kivu regions and specifically worried about the recent capture by Rwanda’ sponsored rebels of what they call strategic town of Rutshuru and a possible advance on Goma, the provincial capital. Congolese people of diaspora who only just about a month ago was still debating the outcome of last November presidential election and taking subversive measure to “oust” the fraudulently elected and yet incompetent president Joseph Kabila, are now shifting their focus towards finding ways of solving the endless wars/rebellions in east Congo.

After hours of discussions raging from ‘how to secure our borders’ to 'when Kabila will go' , I’ve concluded that the Democratic Republic of Congo lacks a true leadership believe it or not we can argue today on who or what really fuels the country’s everlasting army conflicts which had and still cost millions of lives but the solution is within Congolese themselves. When Paul Kagame said that Rwanda was being used as a “scapegoat” (though UN reports prove otherwise) to Congo’s internal problems, many didn’t believe him but the truth is the dude may partially be right. Today countries which have seen years of war are now talking economy development language, a better example is the neighbouring Angola, which had witnessed almost three decades of civil war is recovering and it is on the right track although a real democracy is not implemented. 

As someone I know always argue that the DRC also has to move on and discuss economy development but that’s impossible when safety and stability are the two major obstacles to the development of a country.
During my meeting with the devoted Congolese activists, I almost broke down (not in tears) when someone raisedthe subject regarding number of Congolese disperse around the world as refugees. 

To conclude, there are NO politicians in the country of Patrice E. Lumumba rather just people who get into politics to make a quick living from European donors’ money.

Monday, 2 July 2012

US ask Rwanda to halt fuelling conflict in the DRC.

By Gael Masengi

In response to the accusations from Congolese diplomats that the United States of America is blocking the United Nation’s so-called Group of Experts on Congo’s overwhelming evidence implicating Rwanda reports, this past week while Congolese people were “celebrating” Independence Day, Washington has released a statement calling its central African ally Rwanda to stop aiding army defectors waging war in the eastern side of the DRC. The statement has come as result of pressure from various Human Rights groups urging Kigali’s two largest donors (the UK and US) to influence their protégée to end with immediate effect the support of armed groups. Here’s what the US said:
 “The United States welcomes the release of the findings of the Group of Experts of the UN Security Council’s Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Sanctions Committee. We are deeply concerned about the report’s findings that Rwanda is implicated in the provision of support to Congolese rebel groups, including mutinous elements now operating as the M23 armed group. Any such support threatens to further undermine security and fuel displacement in the region. We are also concerned about the report’s findings that the mutineers have forcibly recruited child soldiers.

Consistent with the UN Security Council’s arms embargo, we have urged all parties to respond constructively to the Group of Experts’ findings and have asked Rwanda to halt and prevent the provision the provision of such support from its territory. We have also urged the DRC and Rwanda to implement the principles of the joint Congolese-Rwandan communique issued following the June 19 meeting of the two countries’ foreign ministers in Kinshasa. Restraint and dialogue in the context of respect for each other’s sovereignty offer the best opportunity to resume the difficult to work of bringing peace and security to the eastern DRC and the broader region.”