On Wednesday, September 19, 2012 the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights of the US House of Representatives held a hearing on the ongoing crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The distinguished panel elaborated on the Rwanda’s role in the crisis, but almost nothing was said about weak leadership in DRC. It is a serious mistake not to underscore that the solutions to DRC’s problems reside inside DRC because the core of the crisis is internal. No matter how much help the international community can and will give to DRC, unless the issue of governance is resolved, the crisis in DRC will continue to worsen.
The DRC’s main problem is leadership. With the kind of human and natural resources that it has, a visionary leader could easily take the DRC out of its chronic social, political and economic problems in less than a decade. For example, the presidential election in November 2011 was clearly rigged. The Catholic Church (which deployed 30.000 elections monitors and other credible and independent observers like the Carter Center) characterized the election as full of irregularities. President Kabila responded to people’s demand for transparency by gunning down peaceful protesters thus taking power by force.
It should not matter where the threats are coming from and how many nations are involved in destabilizing the DRC, President Kabila has been unable to mobilize and defend the nation. The Congolese national army has not been able to defend the nation from internal or external threats simply because, among other things, the government has not invested in the armed forces including wages and nutrition when they are deployed to the frontlines or training. Recently Belgian, Chinese and US trained forces have been deployed to the frontlines and were unable to defeat the rebels of M23 . They do not see why they should die for a nation that does not value them. This is an army that has not won a battle since Rwanda and Uganda invaded DRC in 1996. This is why militias continue to humiliate the hopeless government in Kinshasa and neighboring nations are taking advantage of DRC’s natural resources through illicit mineral trade.
Rwanda’s destabilization of the DRC is well known since 1996 and after the death of President Laurent Kabila , his son President Joseph Kabila has not been able to stop Rwanda’s interference because he is a weak leader. He has continuously cut secret deals with Rwandan President Kagame at the expense of the Congolese state. This includes allowing Rwandan forces to conduct military operations without informing the parliament. This is typical of African strongmen heads of state and this is DRC’s main problem.
Read the UN interim report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (S/2012/348) concerning Rwanda’s involvement in the DRC andRwanda’s Response to the Allegations Contained in this Report