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.
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.