The President of the March 23 (M23) Movement has made an appeal to the people of South Africa through their parliament to convince the government of President Jacob Zuma not to send South African troops to take part in the UN-mandated Special Brigade set to enter the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and fight rebels engaged in disputes with Mr Kabila.
In a letter he has written to the South African parliament, a copy of which we have seen, M Bertrand Bisimwa the M23 political leader appealed to South African not to send their troops in what he called ‘an absurd war against their Congolese brothers’. Early this month, the UN Security Council approved an intervention brigade that would be mandated to disarming all fighting factions in the DRC, starting with the M23 Movement.
On Sunday, South Africa announced it had agreed to send its troops to participate in the work of the intervention brigade. Other countries expected to contribute troops are Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique. M Bisimwa said: “Consequently, the M23 [will not be responsible for] this mutual massacre which seems to be programmed just to please those who, from their air-conditioned [offices] in New York skyscrapers, have nothing but contempt and ignore our values and our Pan-African beliefs.”
Bisimwa was saddened to note that the UN had decided to approve the sending of the intervention brigade to the DRC at a time when negotiations between his movement and the Kabila Government are set to resume under the mediation of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who happens to be the Chairman of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).
He added that the resumption of the Kampala talks had been recommended by the 11 countries of the Great Lakes Region. The M23 delegation has since returned to Kampala and is being led by M Rene Abandi. The DRC delegation was also said to have returned to Kampala and talks were due to resume last evening.
M Bisimwa said the UN’s Resolution 2098 of 28 March, 2013 that authorised the creation of an intervention force in the DRC, had been entrusted with ‘an offensive mission to extend the reign of an army whose crime rate and rape is the highest of all armies of the world’. He added that the intervention force was being sent to the DRC to ‘rescue the most corrupt regime in the world’. He said it was surprising that in the same resolution, corruption was mentioned as the main cause of failure of the Congolese Government.
A reconnaissance mission ahead of the deployment of the UN Intervention Force has already been to Goma to assess the situation. It was led by the South African Army Chief of Staff Lt Gen VR Masondo. Reconnaissance teams from Tanzania and Malawi have also visited North Kivu. Their presence in Goma proves what a UN Security Council official recently said to Reuters that the Intervention Force’s main goal was to destroy the M23 who have been camping in Bunagana since withdrawing from Goma after briefly capturing it last year.
Since his appointment as leader of the M23, M Bisimwa has been focusing his attention on assuring the people in the area under his Movement’s control that they are capable of defending them and that they would ensure their safety. Great Lakes Region observers fear that if the UN Intervention Forces start attacking the M23, it would undermine the authority of President Museveni at a time that the UN needs him most to deal with Islamic terrorism in East and Central Africa.
Like his predecessor, M Bisimwa is convinced that bad governance is the main cause of problems in the DRC and that militarism would only exacerbate the situation. Since decamping from Goma, the M23 has mounted a campaign to repair roads so that people can transport their goods and established a peaceful environment that has been quick to lure other Congolese from areas not under the M23 control to seek refuge in Bunagana.
Meanwhile, the opposition Rwanda Peoples Party (RPP) has accused the DRC national army, the FARDC of systematically ‘exterminating’ Congolese people of Kinyarwanda origin in the Kivu provinces of eastern DRC. Writing to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis, John Karuranga, RPP President said at least 219 women were last November savagely raped and many suffered physical injuries at the hands of the FARDC.
“These cruel, gruesome [and] barbaric acts were ignored by MONUSCO, NGOs, the UN Group of Experts and Human Rights Watch,” the RPP said. It added: “The same cruel and brutal murderers that raped [the] 219 women in Goma, Minova and Bukavu, have joined forces with MONUSCO under the guise of the so-called ‘Intervention Brigade’ in preparation to invade the already displaced people of North Kivu in the DRC.”
Mr Karuranga said while the world is now focusing on the 19th commemoration of the Rwanda genocide against the Tutsis, his party wanted to draw the attention of the international community [on] the plight of “the innocent, the defenceless and the downtrodden people of the Kivu Region of the DRC and those of Syria” and “do something to stop the threat against their very existence”.
The RPP leader said his party believes ‘with conviction’ that the assumption that genocide will never ever again take place in Rwanda or elsewhere in the Great Lakes Region is completely false. “This is because the world has failed to tackle the root causes of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and also failed to prevent new genocides from taking place in neighbouring countries.”