The past two weeks have seen unprecedented high-level diplomatic maneuvers between Kishasa, Kigali and Kampala- reminiscent of the 1996’s and 1998’s first and second war into Africa’s second largest country.
At the heart of the diplomatic overtures is a reciprocal benefit to the triangle- with Kabila intent to stay in power and Kigali and Kampala, under the guise of pursuing their respective “negative forces” operating in DRC, intent on doing injustice to the composite components of the Congolese soil.
Three months ago, DRC’s top court ruled that Kabila may stay in power in case the November elections are delayed- sparking off unease and demonstrations among the rank and file in the country’s opposition.
Riding on the lee-way, Kabila is hell-bent on having the elections delayed; for his political survival. Thus, he enlisted the help of “super political survivors” Kagame and Museveni- erstwhile political foes.
Both Kagame and Kabila have direct lines to one another but when, on May 29, Kabila called Kagame, the latter didn’t respond. Sources privy to Kabila say he decided he will have time with Kagame in the then forthcoming AU summit scheduled for July 10-18, 2016. And indeed, he did.
To cut a long story short, Kabila wanted Kagame’s help to stay in power. Kagame, sources say, advised his former foe-turned-friend, to bring Museveni on board. Thus; the recent bee-hive diplomatic activity between the three capitals, not forgetting security/military compromises- including having the chief bodyguard of FDLR’s supremo Mudacumura, arrested, a day before Kabila met met Kagame on August 12, 2016.
It has been a fact of common knowledge that Kigali has always wanted a change of guard in Kinshasa- first by supporting Moise Katumbi (who now is out of the political equation) and later veteran Etienne Tsisekedi. Kabila wants to turn the tide around. And so many concessions have to be made.
The game plan is that Kigali and Kampala shall pursue the FDLR and ADF respectively, creating a situation of war, thus declaring the November elections a political impossibility- and voila, the young man in Kinshasa retains power. Kampala and Kigali, both feeling economic squeezes, find in Kabila’s vulnerability a golden chance to revitalize their decaying economies- certainly not forgetting multinational corporations profiteering from conflict economics world over.
An uncertain chessboard
Yet Kabila knows that his reign has hinged on SADC- primarily South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania; whose forces, under the FIB, sent the M23 in disarray. And Kabila is doing the exact opposite of why SADC member states risked their soldiers’ lives in defense of his nation.
To complicate the matters further is that SADC is known for many things, including not dancing to the tunes of global multinational corporations hunting for blood money. The Eastern global center of power, as political ramifications obtaining in the region portray, has been behind SADC, for both economic and security interests.
It is my informed opinion that DRC is treading the same path as Burundi- another global theater of war between both eastern and western blocks, should Kabila move ahead with his “projet 3eme mandat.”
Thus, to avoid another looming catastrophe in the region, Satan should arrange some things- including a date with Kabila in his dreams and advise him to live and let live. To save Congo, Kabila must just go. Period.
Between a rock and hard place
Sometime in July 1990, so writes Ambassador Jean-Marie Ndagijimana in “How Paul Kagame Deliberately Sacrificed The Tutsis on page 41, President Museveni confided in Rwanda’s former foreign affairs minister Casimir Bizimungu, in Addis Abeba, that a delegation of Rwandan refugees in Uganda would travel to Rwanda to assess the conditions for their voluntary return. This narrative has been independently verified. Fred Rwigema (RIP) was to lead the delegation. This was after months of diplomatic tick-tacks in quest for solving the Tutsi refugee problem. By then, any historian, even a poor one, agreed that Habyarimana and Museveni were cozy. Three months later- the delegation was an armed force.
On 14 March 2011, Amama Mbabazi and Yoweri Museveni had a gentleman’s agreement- that the latter should step down in 2016 and would support the former in the latter’s bid to succeed him. Amama Mbabazi, Uganda’s once super minister, is now rotting in his political coffin.
In 1996, Laurent Desire Kabila (Joseph Kabila’s father) was introduced to James Kabarebe, who later introduced him to Paul Kagame. By then, the plans for a military incursion against Mobutu Sese Seko were in the offing. Agreements were entered, military strikes launched, and successful they became. Later, Laurent Kabila was assassinated on Kigali’s orders
In the second Congo war- erstwhile military allies un-seen before- Museveni and Kagame- were to engage in a bloodiest battle in Kisangani that none in Uganda’s military establishment has yet come to terms with. This bred an acrimonious relationship between the two that, up to now, despite survival instincts bringing them together, it wouldn’t be right to claim all is wholly well between Kigali and Kinshasa.
On 14 January 2011, Museveni summoned Rwanda’s ambassador Uganda, Frank Mugambagye. Museveni raised two concerns arising from intelligence reports he had received and wanted to send a verbal message to President Paul Kagame of Rwanda . The first intelligence report Museveni had was that the Rwandan president was heavily funding the election campaign of Uganda’s main opposition leader, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party president, Dr Kizza Besigye. The second was that Kagame had held a meeting with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in Sirte, Libya, during which the two agreed to organise and finance an armed insurrection against Museveni originating from the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The next day, Mugambagye delivered the concerns to Kagame, to which Kagame denied with satiated fury.
But around the same time, Kagame received intelligence information that the Coordinator of Intelligence Services in Uganda, Gen. David Tinyefuza, had sent the Director General of the External Security Organisation (ESO), Robert Masolo, to South Africa to speak to Rwandan dissident generals Patrick Karegyeya and Kayumba Nyamwasa. By then, It was alleged that t Masolo had written a report to Museveni, largely based on information given to him by Karegyeya and Kayumba, telling tall tales of how Kagame was heavily funding Besigye using Sudhir Ruperelia’s Crane Bank. Museveni took the matter seriously. It was a bee-hive of counter intelligence and trans-national espionage to get hold of what reality was. And so, both Kagame and Museveni, after Kisangani and these spy allegations, plus Museveni’s infamous letter to Claire Short; a new chapter was opened for mutual trust.
And so, at exactly 4.15pm on Friday July 29, 2011, a Gulf Stream Five executive jet, carrying Museveni and his entourage, touched the tarmac at Kigali International Airport; after 13 years!
But has everything been rosy between the two? No. Both Museveni and Kagame are like chess players who have mastered each other’s moves over a long time. Having worked together for long in Uganda against the government of Milton Obote and Idi Amin, in Rwanda against the government of Juvenal Habyarimana and later, first against the government of Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire and later together against the government of Laurent Desire Kabila, only theym can second guess each other- not Kabila.
In August 2010, Paul Kagame was the sole head of state at Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza’s swearing-in. Six years later; Kagame is the man leading the charge for a regime change in Burundi; after Nkurunziza rejected the former’s pleas for assistance in “politically eliminating” former Tanzanian strong man Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.
Suffice to say that Jakaya Kikwete, as a lieutenant in Tanzania’s intelligence, played a key role in Museveni’s power grab in 1986 and later in RPF’s ascension to power in Rwanda in 1994.
Why the history? Because Kabila is treading a dangerous path by courting angels of death and destruction in Museveni and Kagame. In otherwords, Kabila is damned if he doesn’t court them but he is as well damned if he does. History is rife with lessons but only few are blessed to learn from it. Can Kabila be one of them and leave it when it is sweetest? I hope he does.